It's far from breaking news that stress is bad for you, but new research from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University (opens in new tab) has outed exactly how damaging it can be to your body and mind, and it's not pretty: Workplace stress is just as harmful to your health as secondhand smoke.
In a meta-analysis of 228 studies, researchers looked at how 10 common workplace stressors—including long work hours, poor social support in the office and work-family conflict—affected four health outcomes: having a diagnosed condition, the perception of poor physical health, the perception of poor mental health, and, finally, death.
Those suffering from job insecurity are 50 percent more likely to rate their health as poor, which are the same odds reported by people exposed to secondhand smoke.
Additionally, similar to the effects of secondhand smoke, high job demands raise the odds of having a diagnosed illness by 35 percent, and long work hours increase odds of death by 20 percent. You read that right: 20 percent.
Because a lot of workplace stressors stem from company values and practices, reducing these odds will require employer intervention. But because it might take a while for your workplace to realize the importance and benefits of creating a low-stress work environment, here are five ways you can find better work-life balance.
How to Work Healthier, Not Harder
- Sharpen your time management skills. With so much on your plate every day, speak with your higher-ups about setting realistic goals and deadlines (opens in new tab) for your day-to-day. Rank those tasks in order of priority, says Mayo Clinic.
- Take your lunch break. Okay, we're guilty of the bite-and-type multi-tasking lunch, too. But getting time away from your screen can do you a lot of good. Even a 30-minute lunchtime walk can improve enthusiasm, relaxation and nervousness at work, according to a small January 2015 study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports (opens in new tab).
- Rethink your commute. If your commute to work is unbearably long or stressful, rethink how far you live from your job. Satisfaction with the work commute (opens in new tab) contributes to overall happiness, according to a 2013 study. Even if your actual workday isn't always pleasant, at least going to and from your job won't add to the stress.
- Find an enjoyable outlet for your stress. Incorporate a fun activity or hobby into your daily routine. Researchers in a February 2015 study (opens in new tab) found that people who engaged in some sort of leisure every day had better moods, less stress and lower heart rates than when they did not engage in a leisure activity.
- Turn off your smartphone. 35 percent of workers said their smartphones increase the number of hours they work each day, according to the Pew Research Center (opens in new tab). Findings from a March 2012 review published in Current Directions in Psychological Science (opens in new tab) suggest employees who detach from work after hours are more satisfied with their lives and experience fewer symptoms of psychological strain—all without affecting their engagement at work.
The next time you're feeling burnout in the workplace, remember your wellbeing comes first and there are many ways to keep your job from negatively affecting other parts of your life.
When she’s not keeping up with the latest health news, Tehrene is probably doing one of the following things: walking her fluffy little dog, Trixie, blogging about food and fitness at TehreneFirman.com, watching Law & Order: SVU, or getting her sweat on in Pilates or spinning. And if she’s not doing any of the aforementioned activities, she’s probably eating french fries.
Prince Harry Says There's "Leaking...But Also Planting of Stories" in the Firm in Explosive New Netflix Trailer
By Iris Goldsztajn
Princes William and Harry Put Their Differences Aside to Honor Their Late Friend
A beautiful gesture.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Prince Harry Called Claims He Wanted to Teach the "Brits a Lesson" a "Baseless Hit Piece"
This is... a lot.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe