I feel like the majority of my conversations with friends lately have revolved around work. And it’s not such a feel-good chat.
When asking each other about work, the most common response is usually something like “ugh.”
Then, there’s the tidbits such as “I just have so much going on,” “I hate my coworkers/boss,” “I couldn’t sleep last night, I kept thinking about work,” “I’m so stressed out,” “I would do anything not to go to work tomorrow,” “My job is killing me.”
(And sure, I’ve made some of those comments too, but I’m not going to say which ones…)
Related story: Is your job bad for your heart?
Work stress is getting worse than ever, according to reports. More than eight in 10 Americans are stressed about their jobs.
I can say I’m one of them. And chances are, you are, too.
It’s not just making us unhappy — it’s creating some serious health consequences. So when someone complains about how their job is “killing them,” they aren’t necessarily being overdramatic.
I came across an infographic from Huffington Post that spelled those out and it’s quite shocking.
Some health consequences that work stress can cause:
Higher heart attack risk — Job burnout and stress — dealing with emotional, mental and physical exhaustion from your work — makes you a prime candidate for heart problems. Those identified in the top 20 percent of the burnout scale were found to have a 79 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease — an accumulation of plaque in arteries that can lead to angina or heart attacks.
Increased risk of diabetes — Women with stressful jobs are more likely to develop diabetes. Men, apparently, are off the hook with this one.
Depression — Workers who work longer hours in a day are twice as likely to suffer from a major depressive episode as those who work more reasonable hours. And depression is linked with a host of its own physical health woes, including stroke, heart attack and addiction.
Burnout — Burnout is associated with other health woes including obesity, insomnia and anxiety. Researchers also warned that job burnout can create a “downward health spiral and develop into a chronic condition.”
Accelerated aging — Research has linked work stress to accelerated aging.
Emotional distress — Very stressed out workers experience levels of work stress high enough to damage their emotional health.
Oh, and aside from all these things that can kill you already, stress is linked in general to a higher risk of death. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that individuals who worked in a hostile office environment had a significantly increased risk of death compared to those who didn’t.
So basically, there’s no way around it: Work can kill you. (Tell your boss! Tell your coworkers! It’s a fact.)
The problem with the relentless stress is that we’re just getting used to it, as if it’s a normal part of our lives. But it shouldn’t be. Our health is never worth sacrificing. Our job isn’t worth dying for.