Health

Hate Your Job? Wise Up to the Health Hazards.

If you're unhappy at work, there's good reason to re-think it

As you take stock of what’s important in your life in 2016, have you thought about your job?

At 45 years old, I am still eager, motivated, inspired and excited to go to work each day. I love what I do. Luckily, I have been able to marry my passions into a wonderful career in the fitness industry for more than 20 years.

As a certified personal trainer, elite master’s distance runner and running coach, I know I can have a positive impact on clients’ physical and mental well-being. It doesn’t matter if clients are seeking overall better health, or if they simply want to feel better after leaving one workout session. Seeing these changes inspires me to get up and go to work each day.

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Not everyone can say that. More than half of U.S. workers still report being miserable at work, according to the Conference Board, a New York-based nonprofit research group that does an annual survey of job satisfaction. Statistics released at the end of last year showed that only 48.3 percent of U.S. workers are satisfied with their profession.

Good pay and fear of the unknown are cited often as reasons people stay in jobs that make them miserable. Yet the health consequences of loathing one’s work may not be worth it. Countless studies done over the past several decades find job stress impacts physical and mental well-being, relationships with others and the risk of serious illness.

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that:

  • A quarter of employees view their jobs as the top stressor in their lives.
  • Three-quarters of employees believe workers have more job stress than a generation ago.
  • Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than any other life stressor.

More than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5 to 8 percent of annual health care costs are linked specifically to work stressors. That’s according to a 2015 working paper from the Harvard Business School, “The Relationship Between Workplace Stressors and Mortality and Health Care Costs in the United States.”

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Effects of Job Dissatisfaction” source=”http://www.oem.bmj.com”]Weight gain|Weakened immune system|Burnout|Ruined relationships|High risk of serious illness|Anxiety and depression[/lz_bulleted_list]

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Stress and depressive symptoms, as most of us know, are associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle age and older adults, as well as a whole host of other potentially life-threatening conditions.

Highly satisfied employees, on the other hand, tend to have better physical and mental health, learn new job-related tasks easily, and have less job stress and unrest.

Pat Barone, a Madison, Wisconsin-based weight loss coach, echoes the work-health connection.

“My clients come to me when their excess weight has begun to impact their health — diabetes, high blood pressure, food addictions and anxiety diagnoses are common. Most have one of two issues: a job they hate or an unfulfilling relationship. It’s unreasonable to expect to endure a situation that is wrong for you and NOT have it impact your health.”

Passion — that strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for or about something — is something health and wellness experts encourage people to find in a career, if possible.

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Curt Rosengren, a speaker, author and career coach from Seattle, Washington, said the real benefits of a healthy fit between your life and job include having more energy, more confidence and more enjoyment of every aspect of your life.

“As you plan for a career, feel free to take things like money and opportunity for advancement into the picture,” said Rosengren. “They’re important.”

Understanding what motivates you in your work, health experts say, can help you reframe your expectations and make choices to increase satisfaction and health. What are you waiting for?

Cassandra Henkiel is a master personal trainer, professional athlete and fitness coach in Austin, Texas. 

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