Why Job Stress Might Be Killing Your Heart Health
Is the 8 to 5 grind getting you down? Does the sight of your boss send a cold sweat down your back? Have you fantasized about quitting your job but know that you never will? According to Statistics Canada, 62% of workers identified that their main source of stress was their job!
If this sounds familiar, then it might be time to check yourself before you wreck your heart! With the pressure of making an income, paying bills, and supporting your family, it is common for people to stay in a job that makes them unhappy or causes them extreme stress. What many do not realize, is that this job stress might be killing their heart health! Wondering if you and your job fall into this scary category? Take a look at why your job is hurting you and what you can do to make a positive change!
Why Job Stress is so Bad for Your Heart
Your boss walks into the office with a stern look on their face. They tell you that they need the project you’ve been working on by 3pm this afternoon. It is currently 1pm… The blood rushes to your face, your breathing and heart rate accelerate, and you start to feel adrenaline pumping through your veins as you frantically stress about getting the task done. Can you guess why job stress is so bad for your heart?!
When our bodies experience stress, we react by ‘fight or flight’ – both raising our blood pressure and kicking in our adrenaline. The more adrenaline we have coursing through our veins (a bad stress hormone), and the more we panic/breathe (elevated blood pressure), the harder our hearts have to work. Every now and then, this is a healthy and normal reaction, but when you are facing job stress reactions like this consistently, it can put a deadly strain on your heart. This strain can lead eventually to a weakening of the heart muscles, lead to heart disease, or cause a heart emergency such as a heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Other Reasons Why Your Job is Killing Your Heart Health
Sure, the stress of getting projects done on time, a terrible boss, and a negative work environment will all affect your heart health, but those stressors aren’t the only factors to consider!
You spend all day sitting at your desk, only getting up to use the facilities, head to a meeting, or speak with a coworker. When you get home from work, what will you do? Do you hit up the gym or do you sit on the couch and catch up on your latest binge? The problem is that when we sit all day at our jobs and then come home to sit some more, we aren’t getting enough exercise to keep our hearts healthy. It is recommended by Canada’s Food Guide that adults should be getting 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Why? Exercise is proven to:
- Reduce negative stress hormones
- Strengthen heart muscles (and other muscles)
- Improve good cholesterol in the body
- Reduce the likelihood of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues, etc.
Poor Food and Drink Options
As the week rolls on by, you notice that the fridge at home is lacking in lunches, so instead you choose to buy your lunch at the food court. RED FLAG! The week is done and every Friday you head out for drinks every Friday with your coworkers. RED FLAG!! If you are dealing with job stress and eating/drinking unhealthy choices such as burgers, fries, alcohol (see what alcohol does to your heart on our blog!), and other unhealthy foods, then you are putting your heart through additional stress. These poor food choices increase your risk of getting diabetes, developing high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or heart disease.
How to Manage Job Stress in a Heart-Healthy Way
Of course, it would be useless to say that if your job causes you stress, to ‘just quit.’ We live in a world where we need a source of income to keep us and our families living. Thankfully, when it comes to improving your heart health, quitting your job isn’t the only option! Take a look at some of the alternative options that will decrease your job stress:
- Create a fitness routine and stick to it
- Eat healthier meals
- Try stress-reducing activities (ex. yoga, meditation, hot baths, breathing exercises, etc.)
- Book a therapy/counselling session to discuss job stress in a healthy setting
- Get stress management training
- Take a sabbatical
- Book a week or two for vacation
- Take a mental health day
- Reduce your work hours to part time (if possible)
- Seek other job opportunities in your field with less job stress
Remember, when trying to solve the problem of job stress affecting your heart, it is important to remember that EVERY job will have stress – it’s just a fact of life! Even people who find their dream job will experience stress, worry, panic, and fear in the process of their work life. But it is what you do to MANAGE that stress that will make a difference. Find a good work-life balance, and it could be just the thing to save your blood pumper!
Ready to reduce the job stress, add positive additions to your work-life balance, and create a healthier lifestyle? Take these suggestions into consideration and do what you can to improve your heart health and live a long and happy life in and out of the workplace!