Stress from work can be just as hard on your health as smoking cigarettes. If you feel like you're under constant pressure to handle too much work in too little time, you need to read this special report.
With downsizing and a recession, on-the-job stress has reached near-epidemic proportions in the U.S.: In a recent survey, about 46 percent of workers said they're feeling too much pressure at work. "People are putting in long hours, taking work home and giving up much-needed vacation time," says Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D., author of Chained to the Desk. "Many of us are so busy we don't even eat lunch anymore." Our success-addicted culture may make you think stress is all in a day's work, but that daily pressure may be harming your health. "Chronic stress has seriously damaging effects," says Naomi Swanson, Ph.D., a Cincinnati-based researcher with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "If your job stresses you out, your natural defenses are constantly on high alert." Stress hormones, like cortisol, flood your body, and the buildup may have a wear-and-tear effect.
Wear and tear goes deeper than feeling run-down. A high-pressure job can actually double your risk of a heart attack, and a recent study reveals that chronic work stress can be just as bad on your mental and physical well-being as smoking and not exercising. Even working in a noisy office can cause stress hormones to rise to unhealthy levels.
Fortunately, your body goes through layers of warning signs before physical damages set in. If you feel constantly on edge, that in itself is your body telling you that you need to take a break -- whether a 10-minute walk or a two-week vacation. Left unreleased, that stress buildup can turn to anxiety and depression, making it harder to focus and eventually disturbing the sleep cycles you need to stay refreshed. Sleeplessness is often the first physical symptom of an overstressed life.
The Breaking Point But many of us push past those mental and physical warning signs. "High achievers are the very type of people who think they can handle these feelings on their own," says Dr. Robinson. "They often don't ask for help until their stress snowballs and turns physical -- in the form of headaches, acne or indigestion." Constant stress will attack where the body is most vulnerable, he adds, which explains why some people come down with repeated colds and flus (signs of a weak respiratory tract), and others get clobbered with stomachaches and ulcers (meaning the gastrointestinal system is weakest).
If prolonged stress goes untreated, over time it can make your hair fall out, your joints ache and even stop your period. It can also lead to alcoholism, severe depression and hypertension. Eventually, chronic stress will even strip away your ability to enjoy time off: A recent study shows that people who juggle large workloads and feel overly responsible are the most likely to be plagued by headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and more when they're out of the office.
"Everybody has a breaking point," says Dr. Robinson. The goal is to realize you've hit yours long before physical symptoms set in. So listen to your body when it's tired or anxious, and commit yourself to taking breaks when those signals go off. Read on for more tips on how to get work stress under control.
Rihanna Wore a Diamond Toe Ring Worth $1 Million in the Name of "Quiet Luxury"
I see what she did there.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Supermodel Elsa Hosk Just Wore the Most Bananas Optical Illusion Dress in Cannes
I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
By Iris Goldsztajn
I'm a Professional Shopper—Here's What's Worth Your Money from Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale
Thousands of items from Nordstrom's best-selling brands are on sale—think Madewell, Vince, Dolce Vita, and many more.
By Emma Childs
The Global Business of Glam
An innovative model for beauticians provides fair pay, training, and independence for women in Pakistan.
By Saba Imtiaz
Reed Krakoff Doodles in Meetings Too
The revered designer on his prolific career and his newest project: Tiffany's first dual fragrance.
By Taylore Glynn
Why I Invested in Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories
Nicole Quinn of Lightspeed Venture Partners shares what it was like to launch the new beauty company with the legend herself—and what she looks for when making investments.
By Bobbie Gossage
Whitney Wolfe Herd Has Big Plans for Bumble in 2019
Bumble's empire of female empowerment is branching out beyond the world of dating apps. Up next? A skincare line—and an ambitious campaign to end misogyny.
By Daphne Beal
Why This Model Left the Glitzy World of Fashion for the Gritty Life of Bullfighting
There are many kinds of multihyphenates in Hollywood: actress-singer, director-producer. In the 1950s Bette Ford turned heads and raised eyebrows when she became a model-actress-bullfighter.
By Fortunato Salazar
Marianna Hewitt's Journey from High School Outsider to Beauty Boss
Becoming an influencer takes 💪, but having the chance to inspire young women is #worththewrinkle.
By Mehera Bonner
5 Lessons I Learned from Starting a Podcast
MC's beauty editor just launched the beauty podcast 'Fat Mascara.' Learn from her mistakes.
By Jennifer G. Sullivan
What Your Boss Really Thinks About Your Visible Tattoo
A form of self-expression or just inappropriate at the office? Business leaders tell all.
By Rebecca Shapiro