Could Your Job Be Hurting Your Health?

You spend half of your life at your job, so make sure it isn’t harming your health.

work stress

I know I talk a lot about how important fitness and physical health is to your life, but mental health is always, and always will be more important. Without mental health, we can’t even get up in the morning to go to work, exercise, take care of our children, or take care of ourselves.

Being in a good frame of mind mentally helps us function better in society, and reflect on our choices to push us in the right direction. As an orthopaedic surgeon, many people may think my job is too stressful, but in high-stress situations I have learned to thrive, especially when it comes to helping someone heal. Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from poor job satisfaction, and deteriorating mental health as a result, which can ultimately lead to deteriorating physical health, as well.

READ MORE: Can you Train Your Brain to Look Forward to Exercise?

A study conducted in 2016 reported that Americans work over 25 percent more than our European counterparts, take less vacation, and retire later in life. Job stress and dissatisfaction can lead to physical manifestations of poor health such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and bodily pain. Here are a few ways your job could be impacting your health, and what to do about it.

If your job keeps you at your desk all day, you could be at risk for heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and even death, as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. Americans spend up to 13 hours per day sitting, so this is actually a big problem. Ways to break up the day are getting up and stretching every 30 minutes or so (a relaxing alarm on your phone is a great reminder), or using a smaller water glass during the day so you have to get up for refills more often. You can also take phone calls standing, or request a standing desk from your boss.

If your job cuts into your sleep time, you need to consider making a change. Experts recommend 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but in 2016, the CDC reported more than a third of Americans get much less than that. The best way to get more sleep when you have stressful job is to leave your work at work. Even if you are required to answer emails after-hours, designate a 2-3 hour window around your bedtime and cut off all electronics. Not only will this free time allow you more relaxation, but it will help you get a better nights rest so you can deal with tomorrows stresses, tomorrow.

I think most people would agree that their jobs are pretty stressful, so when it comes to actual work stress during the day, you should focus your energy inward. Just because there are lots of stressful things going on, doesn’t mean it actually has to affect our mental health. You can try getting more exercise, doing yoga, or even practicing breathing exercises to learn to control stress. Meditation also does wonders for the highly stressed, and there are some great apps, such as the headspace app, that you can download to include meditation in your everyday routine.

Ultimately, if your job is causing too much stress and you have tried to alleviate it in the previously mentioned ways, it is probably time to look for something else. I know that pride gets in the way a lot, but if you can set that aside, you should remember that you are your most valuable commodity, and your mental and physical health are ultimately worth much more than a paycheck.

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