Are you the type of person who puts 110 percent into everything you do? If so, you may also be the type of person to let stress get the better of you. When you’re putting in long hours at work –especially at a stressful job—you run the risk of letting stress levels getting out of control. 

Here’s why: When you put so much of yourself into everything, the stakes are always high. And when you have a stressful job, the stakes get even higher.

stressful job 1140x761 - Is Your Career Damaging to Your Health?

How work stress can impact your health

Have you ever stayed up late to meet a work deadline or gotten reprimanded for being late? These are common sources of stress at work, and they could be impacting your health.

There are a few ways stress can impact your health:

Weight

If you tend to binge eat whenever you’re feeling stressed, there may be a biological reason. Studies have linked cortisol to cravings for sugar and fat. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is already high, you’re at greater risk of gaining weight when you’re stressed out.

But it’s not just cravings that are sabotaging your diet during periods of stress. The stress hormone cortisol may cause your body to hold onto more fat than usual – and enlarge the size of your fat cells. This is especially true in the area around your midsection.

Heart health

It’s a common belief that someone can worry themselves into a heart attack, but science has yet to prove this. Still, research does show a relationship between stress and heart attacks.  

A European study of 200,000 employees found that people who have stressful jobs and little autonomy at work are 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack than people with less stressful jobs.

If you have other risk factors for heart disease, it’s crucial that you find a better work-life balance.

Headaches

As soon as you feel stress coming on, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals cause vascular changes that can lead to a headache. So, there’s the root cause of your tension migraine.  

The body’s stress reaction can also cause your muscles to tense up, which can worsen stress headaches. Tylenol may be a good temporary fix, but it won’t solve your problems in the long term. Try to find your most prominent sources of stress at work and address them.

Addiction

Have you ever felt like you needed a glass of wine after a stressful day? Well, imagine what happens when every day is stressful. Over time, your body will build a tolerance to alcohol, and you’ll need more to get the same effect. This can quickly lead to alcoholism if you’re not careful. Because stress and addiction are so closely related, your job may have an impact on whether you develop an addiction. Some jobs lead to substance abuse more often than others. These include jobs in arts and entertainment, construction, and food service.  

What to do about a stressful job

If we’re being honest, most of us need work to get by, so any job has the potential for stress. So steering clear of the stressful situation is much easier said than done. Instead, try one of the following tips to help reduce stress at work:

  1. Talk about your source of stress – Whether it’s your deadlines or your boss that’s stressing you out, talk about it with your direct supervisor. Don’t assume there’s nothing that can be done without trying.
  2. Take more time off – If you’re one of the many Americans who avoid taking time off, stop. You need time to have a life outside of work, so plan a few more vacation days. If your job is always stressful, space them out to avoid long stretches without time off.
  3. Learn to let things go – When it comes down to it, there’s only so much one person can do. Don’t try to be a superhero at work. Just do your best.

Your health is way more important than any job, so do what you can to cut your stress levels and live a better life. What are your favorite stress-relieving activities?

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