Stress and Poor Health: Effects of Workplace Stress on Your Health

Stress and poor health go hand in hand. Job-related stress happens when you’re under pressure to perform during unfavourable working conditions. Workplace stress can affect more than your productivity, interpersonal relationships, and can lead to serious health problems.

A lot of times, people are unaware that prolonged stress can have adverse effects on their health. Other times, people fear to acknowledge that they’re stressed because they have the wrong perception of what levels of stress are normal. 

This article will shed some light on how stress can be harmful to your physical and mental health.

So, can your workplace make you ill?

Research shows that in today’s hectic world (especially during a global pandemic!); a lot of people are succumbing to workplace pressure, and ending up seriously ill.

If you’ve been feeling sick from work-related issues, you’re not weak, abnormal, lazy, or hard to deal with. You’re suffering from occupational-related stress. 

Effects of work-related stress on your health

High blood pressure

Studies show that stress can stimulate your nervous system and elevate your blood pressure. Normal levels of stress will temporarily raise your blood pressure and then regulate it to normal when the stressful situation is over. However, prolonged stress makes high blood pressure long-term, which can contribute to the development of hypertension.

According to Mayo Clinic, here’s what happens when you’re exposed to your blood pressure under constant stress;

  • Your hormones surge to abnormal levels
  • Your heart starts beating faster
  • Your blood vessels become narrow

 Anxiety and depression

Negative work environments that are psychologically demanding, lead to anxiety and depression, and the World Health Organization (WHO), supports these claims. According to the organization, the issue is so rampant, that it costs companies around the world an average of $1 trillion annually.

Sleep disorders

Have you been having issues with your sleep lately? Scientists claim that workplace stress can greatly impact on the quality and duration of your sleep. 

Experts recommend about 7 to 9 hours of sleep for most people, and anything less is unhealthy. Lack of the recommended amount of sleep can have severe consequences, especially for people that operate heavy machinery or drive cars.

Sleep deprivation can also lead to the development of chronic diseases such as;

  • Kidney failure
  • Obesity
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Arthritis

Heart rhythm disorders

Here’s another way in which stress and poor health are related. Stress from work can cause heart rhythm disorders known as atrial fibrillations that can lead to premature death.

According to a study led by Dr Elenor Fransson, an associate Professor at Jönköping University, Sweden, there’s a link between high-stress situations at work and heart rhythm disorders.

The research included a total of 13200 participants, who had no history of heart problems. After five short years, 145 participants had developed atrial fibrillations.

Symptoms of heart rhythm disorder

  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Mood swings and irritability

Has the once happy optimist turned into an irritable, angry pessimist that is gloomy all the time? You might start to notice that you’re getting agitated by your co-workers, family, and friends over small meaningless issues.

Every time you feel like overreacting take some time and evaluate the whole scenario. If the issue starts to feel meaningless yet it seemed so big at the time, that is a strong indicator that your work is causing you stress.

Cognitive difficulties

Stress at work can lead to a decline in your cognitive function. Stress can put an enormous amount of strain on your brain and science has proved this through this scientific research.

In the study, scientists observed that stress affects cognitive faculties in the following ways;

  • Inability to quickly solve problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Struggling to string thoughts together
  • Poor judgement
  • Mood swings

Heart attack and stroke

A study by The Lancet shows that there’s a strong link between stress, heart attack, and stroke. Here’s how stress leads to heart attacks and stroke.

  • When you’re under stress, your brain triggers a massive production of white blood cells
  • We already know that white blood cells are the body’s defence against attack. The excess white blood cells cause a lot of activity in the bone marrow, leading to inflammation.

A combination of the above activities is what eventually overstimulates the arteries, causing heart attack and stroke. As you may know, these diseases can lead to a low quality of life or even worse, death. 

Migraines 

Cleveland Clinic claims that constant stress puts you in a path of migraine development. When stressed, your brain produces certain chemicals that trigger migraines. Stress buildup can also cause tension headaches.

Therefore, you are more susceptible to regular recurring headaches if your job environment is stressful. Some contributors of regular headaches at work are;

  • Long working hours
  • Looking at computer screens for extended periods
  • Lack of adequate sleep
  • Noisy working environments
  • Too many work demands

Conclusion 

Both employees and employers need to recognize the role that stress plays on health. Gone are the days when it was more appropriate to sweep things under the carpet, and acknowledgement goes a long way into helping solve the problem. 

The relation between stress and poor health is not a myth. There are scientific studies that show that stress can lead to the development of migraines, heart disease, insomnia, cognitive issues, depression, and high blood pressure, amongst others.

For Mindset, Menu and Movement support to alleviate work-related stress please contact me on DrLiz@nutrition.com.au

Acknowledgement: Eve Carrie Writer

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