You could be losing 3 years of your life.
That’s what a recent study from researchers at Harvard and Stanford says. Workplace stress adds up, and it’s costing you more than anxiety or the occasional panic attack.
What is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress is anything that causes excessive pressure to employees. They are not able to cope with or manage the situation. Examples include:
- Poor shift schedules
- Long hours
- Little support from colleagues and supervisors
- Tasks that lack variety or are not challenging
- Time pressure
- Poor management
- Bullying and harassment
- Work-life balance
Stress can manifest itself through upset stomachs, headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Plus, too much stress can lead to serious health problems, like depression, heart attacks, and strokes.1
Are You at Risk?
Are you one of those at risk for losing up to 3 years of your life? Though many factors come into play, here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine just how much your stress at work is impacting you.
How much education do I have?
The best (often low stress) work environments tend to go to those with a higher education, leaving others with jobs that can put their health and safety at risk.2
Do I feel supported and respected at work?
If you don’t have a support system, you’ll likely find it more challenging to deal with pressure or anxiety as it comes. Additionally, if you’re not valued as a contributing employee, it’s hard to find the motivation to do your job well.3
Have I been, or am I likely to be, laid off?
Job insecurity causes large amounts of stress, as employees never know how long they will be able to bring a paycheck home and provide for their families.
Do I feel like I have control in my work?
Jobs that allow you some of the decision-making power, such as choosing which tasks you will work on each day, decrease your stress because they give you control.
Other factors for workplace stress include gender, race, and access to healthcare.
How Do We Respond?
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests creating not just low-stress jobs, but healthy jobs. Healthy work is described as promoting health and well-being.
We need to create better work environments.
Do what you can to make improvements at work.
- Talk to your supervisor if deadlines are too tight or you would like more control of your workload.
- Ask a colleague to join you for lunch or coffee so you can support one another in your projects.
- Decorate your office space in a relaxing and comforting way — yet one that will enable you to be productive.
- See if you can get stress management training specific to your workplace (i.e., nurses learning how to deal with the pressure of working in a fast-paced environment like the Emergency Room).
We need to learn to manage stress.
But you can’t control everything about your workplace. That’s why it’s important to learn to manage stress on your own.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness techniques on a regular basis.
- Eat healthy food throughout the day.
- Get up and stretch; maybe even go for a short walk during lunch.
Workplace stress is inevitable. What you need to decide is, is your job causing you too much stress? If you don’t have a support system, if you don’t have some measure of control over your work, or if you don’t have job security, then you are likely to experience significant stress. This stress can literally take years off your life.
Fight what workplace stress you can by enacting positive changes at your organization. Talk to your supervisor about schedules and tasks. But also practice stress management techniques like mindfulness and meditation so those “little” stresses don’t become “big” problems.
- Your Job is Literally “Killing” You
- Stress and Lower Life Expectancy Linked
- Exposure to Harmful Workplace Practices Could Account for Inequality in Life Spans Across Different Demographic Groups
- Stress at the Workplace
- The Effects of Stress on Your Body
”Recent research in the domain of occupational health psychology shows that many stressful experiences are linked to being offended – for instance, by being offended or ridiculed, by social exclusion, by social conflict, by illegitimate tasks.”↩