Working To Death: Stress and Its Deadly Effects
Taking a day off work is a luxury many people don’t have. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 50 percent of the US workforce receives 7 or fewer paid holidays every year while the average worker receives a paltry 8 days. So whether it’s Labor Day, Thanksgiving or even Christmas, more employees than ever are busy working and stressing out.
More Stress Than Ever
Forbes recently reported that 92% of US workers say their workplace has become more stressful within the past five years! While the cause of this stress might be linked to lower wages, higher benefit costs or longer hours, the result can lead to catastrophic consequences, including mental breakdowns, health deterioration, workplace violence and even death.
Psychological Effects of Workplace Stress
The American Psychological Association defines the cause of stress as a “feeling of powerlessness.” This powerlessness leads to harmful psychological effects ranging from tension headaches to workplace violence. One of the top reasons is a lack of sleep. 63 percent of workers report having levels of stress so high that extreme fatigue and feelings of being out of control are common. Another 34 percent report difficulty sleeping, while 12 percent call in sick due to a stressful work environment. However, simply taking a day off can add more stress for some!
One of the most damaging psychological effects is the risk of developing depression. Working at a stressful job can increase this risk by 80 percent when compared to those who work in less-stressful environments. Of course, the headlines may declare that stress is responsible for workplace homicides, yet clinical depression has a $51 billion impact on the US economy, about the same amount as heart disease or AIDS.
Physical Effects of Workplace Stress
The physical effects of workplace stress include minor conditions that are easily treated as well as major problems that can lead to early death. The minor problems include eyestrain, dry eyes or blurred vision, work-related hand, joint or neck pain that is not chronic, and even an increase in acne or other skin issues. However, major health problems arise when the cardiovascular system is stressed.
Workers exposed to stress are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and those who work 10 or more hours a day demonstrate a 60 percent increase in heart attacks and angina. Other physical effects related to workplace stress include lower back pain, increases or decreases in weight, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as an 18 percent greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. The culprit? Sitting too long! Stress causes many people sit at their desks longer than they should. With all this desk time, diets naturally suffer as well.
Reducing Workplace Stress
Reducing the amount of stress at work isn’t difficult. Taking periodic breaks, going for walks and exercising all help. Rest and relaxation outside of work is critical. Yoga, meditation or other deep breathing exercises help the body and mind relax, while time spent with friends and loved ones triggers your body to release a “feel good” hormone called oxytocin.
What does this mean to you? Simple. Take a break or a day off, spend some time with friends and relax! Your job doesn’t have to kill you.
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