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Work Stress Harmful as Smoking: Study

Work Stress Harmful as Smoking: Study
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By    |   Friday, 04 September 2015 12:57 PM

Here’s something to consider as you celebrate Labor Day weekend: New research suggests job stress is as bad for your health as second-hand smoke.

Researchers from Harvard Business School and Stanford University who reviewed more than 200 studies found that people who are worried about losing their jobs are 50 percent more likely to have poor health.

In addition, those who work in demanding jobs are far more likely to be diagnosed with a physical or mental illness, while those who work long hours tend to die earlier than those who spend less time at work.

“Extensive research focuses on the causes of workplace-induced stress. However, policy efforts to tackle the ever-increasing health costs and poor health outcomes in the United States have largely ignored the health effects of psychosocial workplace stressors such as high job demands, economic insecurity, and long work hours,” the researchers noted.

“Using meta-analysis, we summarize 228 studies assessing the effects of 10 workplace stressors on four health outcomes. We find that job insecurity increases the odds of reporting poor health by about 50 percent, high job demands raise the odds of having a physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent, and long work hours increase mortality by almost 20 percent. Therefore, policies designed to reduce health costs and improve health outcomes should account for the health effects of the workplace environment.”

To ease job stress, and boost your health, experts advise:

Find a way to ease stress. When not at work, try meditation, yoga, exercise, keep a journal, or engage in any other mind-calming activities that can help you leave work at work and lower your stress levels.

Assess your job status. If you’re worried about losing your job, try to reasonably assess the risk. Are you worried needlessly? Or is your company laying people off? If you feel your job may be at risk, preparing yourself — by learning new skills, networking, updating your resume, creating a LinkedIn profile — can help you feel more in control of your work life and reduce your stress level over work-related terminations beyond your control.

Is your job too demanding or dull? Studies show that people who love what they do and feel they are able to be successful at work handle stress better than those who don't. If you don’t like your job or feel overwhelmed or bored, it may be time to explore other opportunities.

Negotiate limits with your boss. If boss expects you to work long hours or be available via email 24/7, try to negotiate limits. Tell your boss you can't work a 12-hour day, but explain how you will complete your responsibilities in an eight-hour day. On after-hours emails, ask him or her to be specific about how and when you are expected to respond — immediately, within 24 hours, or first thing on your next day at work.

Develop a layoff plan. Thinking through how you would respond if you were laid off can help you feel more prepared and less stressed. Listing those specific steps — getting a resume together, asking friends and family members about job openings elsewhere — may help ease your mind.

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Here's something to help you celebrate Labor Day weekend: New research suggests job stress is as bad for your health as second-hand smoke.
job, stress, smoke, tobacco, health
Friday, 04 September 2015 12:57 PM
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