Jul 18 2013

What Does Work Have to Do With Health?

stress-and-sleepWhat Does Work Have to Do With Health? – Vol. 208, July 18, 2013

For many years I held jobs that I disliked. Some of them I hated. In the beginning these terrible jobs required an hour and a half commute each way, on the subway system.  All the while working in offices, getting dressed in suits and nylons that itched me every day just to look “the part.” I was doing secretarial and reception work in those days at companies that I didn’t care about. Most of them were temporary positions not even earning enough to pay the basic bills. I had to ask myself why it was that I was doing these jobs? The tedium of moving papers from one place to another seemed like a total waste of time. This work was boring and uninteresting. I made it a decision to figure out what I wanted to do with my life – something that was of interest to me because I found it fun and exciting to do. Something that would allow me to travel and do challenging and worthwhile activities that happened to pay me for the time I invested in doing them.

It turns out this was an excellent course of action because Americans are literally killing themselves with overwork. Lissa Rankin, MD speaks of this in her blog http://lissarankin.com today.

The bottom line is that prolonged stress creates all sorts of toxic responses in your body  and if it goes on long enough, one can actually die of a heart attack from this situation. It is most likely caused by the constant triggering of the “fight-or-flight” stress response activating the sympathetic nervous system, raising blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in over stressing the cardiovascular system.

If you are feeling burnt out, a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine reported a 79% developed coronary disease than those who liked their jobs and this was in 2000. I could only imagine the numbers going up in the work situations of today.

If you are feeling stressed by your job because of the long hours, difficult relationships with your coworkers and/or bosses while feeling like you have little to no control in your job, it would be good for your health to think about changing jobs.

I have many clients who come to see me who have complained bitterly about their work situations, especially now with the amount of layoffs going on forcing people to do the work of multiple people. I have also heard many complaints of co-workers being lazy, and bosses unwilling to constructively deal with those who are unwilling to do their fair share. This while layoffs are happening to more productive individuals in departments that are no longer pulling in the requisite amount of income to warrant their existence.

Recently I had one client who was getting so sick from the physical strain of her particular job and the mental agitation of being in a negative atmosphere that she worked to find a lateral position in her company under a different manager. So far she is as happy as can be. Her new manager listens to her concerns and lets her know her contributions are much appreciated. There is much less physical labor involved allowing her a much healthier place to work.

I have another client who is in a situation where she is in a contract position that has taught her much, yet is thinking that there are other places that she would like to be employed. She is in a transition though and thinking through moving from corporate work to non-profit work doing something that is a bit more in line with her values. She realizes that she will need to build on some new skills and is looking forward to doing so.

I have had another client whose government contract ended and he ended up starting his own consulting business and is dong great. He even managed to lose 75 pounds in the process being much happier in his new life.

There are all sorts of ways to give yourself the permission needed to leave a potentially deadly situation to find something that is more workable for yourself. In the mean time:

1) Do what you can to relax. Learn meditation or self-hypnosis techniques to calm your self.

2) Eat better foods

3) By all means turn off that depressing news and find yourself more positive people to be with.

4) Get out and enjoy the nice weather by taking walks or riding your bike. Get out into nature and enjoy the fresh air.

We all need to take the time to give our bodies what they truly need to take good care of us. Anything less is destroying the body that is your temple.


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