Chronic stress is bad for you – by now, this shouldn’t be a surprising statement. Chronic stress is linked to all kinds of adverse health outcomes, including suppressing your immune system and increasing your risk for disease(1).
But a recent study from Harvard University has put this knowledge in perspective. Workplace stress, they say, is just as damaging to your body as secondhand smoke.
Long hours, poor social support in the office, and conflicts between family and working life can all affect not just the way you perceive your health (individuals struggling with job insecurity were 50 percent more likely to rate their health as poor), but also your chances of being diagnosed with a disease. Even mortality rates went up among people who experienced a lot of work-related stress(2).
While a lot of these stressors are the result of company policies and practices, the good news is there are things you can do yourself to improve your work satisfaction and overall happiness and health.
1. Work More Efficiently
Time management is a huge issue for a lot of people. If you’re struggling with completing your tasks, speak with your supervisor about setting realistic goals and deadlines for yourself. Rank tasks in order of priority and hold yourself to firm deadlines(3).
2. Don’t Overwork Yourself
It can be hard when you’re feeling a lot of pressure to perform, but taking breaks is important – even half an hour spent away from your desk can improve your enthusiasm and help you feel less nervous at work(4).
3. Evaluate Your Commute
Living closer to your job, resulting in a less time-intensive commute, can improve overall work satisfaction(5). Even if you don’t always enjoy your job, a shorter commute means less time spent thinking about and preparing for work.
4. Release Your Stress
Finding an outlet for your daily stress by incorporating a hobby or activity you enjoy into your daily routine can not only improve your mood, but help decrease your overall stress and even lower your heart rate(6).
5. Reduce Your Smartphone Use
The Pew Research Center reports that 35 percent of workers found that the more they used their smartphones, the more they worked – even outside of business hours(7). Employees who don’t take their work home with them and are able to get away from it during their off hours tend to be more satisfied with their lives and exhibit fewer signs of chronic stress(8).
Work is important to all of us, but it should never be more important than your wellbeing. If your job is contributing to you feeling the effects of chronic stress, it’s a sign that you should consider making some changes in how you engage with your work.