Work-related stress is inevitable. It’s natural to feel extremely tired after pulling off three overtime shifts in a row, get some mild headaches after working non-stop in front of the computer and feel lazy to work in some days.
But if you constantly suffer from mental and physical exhaustion and illness with no chance of recovery, then you need to pay attention. Your current job might be putting your well-being at risk.
Here are 10 clear signs your career is playing havoc with your health and you need to do something about it.
You experience headaches after headaches
If you find yourself always popping headache pills at work, your job might be the one to blame. Muscles tense up when you’re stressed, leading to that tight band sensation around your forehead with pain in your neck and eyes, and pressure building.
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Aside from stress, factors like your work environment and lifestyle can also cause a headache – stuffy offices, poor desk posture, caffeine intake and dehydration, lack of sleep, and excessive screen use, to name a few.
You always don’t get enough sleep
Has your sleep schedule changed or got worse? Sleeping problems are a telltale sign of stress, anxiety and even depression.
Aside from lacking sleep due to job demands, you may find it hard to fall asleep since you can’t get your mind off work at night. Work-related stress and depression can make you get up in the middle of the night panicking or waking up too early and not being able to sleep again.
You sleep too much
Oversleeping is another sign. You tend to sleep too much to cope with your elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels. You may find yourself constantly struggling to get out of bed or needing to sleep in late during weekends.
Your doctor is concerned about your high blood pressure
Too much pressure at work? Chances are that your blood pressure has gone high too. Next to stress, a poor lifestyle at work can also be blamed for high blood pressure. Too much caffeine, smoking, high fat and salt diet, and sedentary desk job make things worse.
Blood pressure and stress are closely related, which can be a good thing. You can see an improvement once you’ve learned to manage stress with relaxation techniques and changed your working pattern.
You find yourself always getting sick
Stress weakens the immune system, affecting its ability to fight against coughs, colds, and fever. Certain factors including your germ-filled commute and workplace, irregular sleep patterns, unhealthy snacks, and vices like drinking and smoking, can trigger the infections too and reduce immune system defenses.
You notice a drastic weight change
Do you find yourself constantly engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors due to your fight or flight mode on the job? You may find yourself losing interest in food due to too much time spent under pressure, or “stress eating” due to a challenging work environment.
Whether it’s a loss or gain, weight changes due to stress have negative consequences on your health. Stress triggers the release of the cortisol. This damages your body’s ability to process blood sugar, and change the way you metabolize carbs, protein, and fat, leading to weight gain or loss.
A bloated midsection is another red flag of extremely high cortisol levels due to stress.
You don’t look your best
Work-related stress does ugly things to us – literally. Stress and lack of proper rest due to job demands add years to your looks. You notice constant breakouts. You look worn out with crow’s feet, fine lines, splotchy skin, dark circles, and puffy eyes. It can make your hair fall out too, and sometimes gray it out. A healthier diet, exercise, sun protection, and beauty sleep can help.
Your emotional state is always unstable
A toxic workplace can make you mentally sick too.
We always joke around our Monday morning struggles, Sunday-night blues, and basically our workplace dissatisfaction. But if your idea of going to work makes you panic and feel anxious, you know things are getting serious.
You have low energy levels. You lack motivation. Your anxiety, mood swings, and panic attacks seem out of control. Panic rises in a wave out of the blue and involves other symptoms like heart racing, nausea, stiff muscles, pins and needles, and feeling faint.
Your mind is constantly restless
Feeling busy, challenged, and motivated at work is normal, and can even be healthy. But feeling overwhelmed, with your mind racing non-stop with deadlines and tasks even at home, is a different story – it can be a sign of unhealthy work-related stress.
You find it harder to focus and concentrate, causing you to make rash decisions. You constantly assume something will go wrong. Brain burnout can also be accompanied by irritability and feelings of anxiety at work, as well as memory problems.
Symptoms only appear during workdays
Is it coincidental that headaches only occur on weekdays? Or you experience panic attacks only during Friday afternoons? When health symptoms only happen on certain days, like workdays, and disappear when you’re on a break, that’s a telltale sign that your job is making you ill.
Take a diary and record what symptoms you get, what you are doing at work, and when you get these symptoms to clearly see the pattern.
Author Bio: Mina Corpuz is a creative writer for HR Dept Australia, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful career management solutions for both employees and employers is her cup of tea.