If asked if your job is stressful, chances are you would answer with an emphatic "Boy is it ever"! Work is by far the leading source of stress in our lives. Nine out of ten people say they experience high levels of stress several times a week. And one out of four of us have high stress levels every day.
What you may not know is that your stress from work may, in fact, be affecting your health. Stress affects the body in many different ways. Some kinds of stress are beneficial. Others can cause serious health problems.
Chronic stress weakens the body's physiological systems and leads to innumerable health problems. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of all disease and illness is stress related.
Major stress related health problems include:
- coronary heart disease
- the common cold
- migraine headaches
- some cases of female infertility
Over $400 billion dollars a year is spent on stress related diseases.
Even more frightening is that job stress is at an all-time high and continues to rise. Gone are the days of working 40 hours a week. The average person now works 60 hours a week which means more hours of prolonged stress and less time to relax.
Job stress even invades our vacation time. According to Anderson Consulting, 80% of people who took vacations in 2000 stayed in touch with the office by taking their laptop or cell phone with them.
There are several indicators you can use to determine if you suffer from chronic stress. Warning signs of chronic stress include headaches, teeth-grinding, back pain (especially in the shoulders or neck), anxiety, and insomnia.
It is important to identify the factors at work that may be causing your stress. Examine the responsibilities of your job. High responsibility jobs can be a source of great stress. Your work environment can also cause stress if it is noisy, crowded, etc. If you have interpersonal problems at work, this can be one of the greatest sources of work-related stress.
If you suffer from chronic stress, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the stress. Some of the most effective stress management techniques include relaxation exercises, meditation, or taking a short nap. If you are at work and need to reduce stress, try deep (abdominal) breathing, take a short break, or talk to a friend or co-worker.
Ultimately, virtually every job is stressful somewhat. But by identifying and effectively managing your stress, you can reduce its negative effects and enjoy a healthier life.