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Stress and Work

Is there a link between heart disease, stress and work?

Are you worried about stress and work? Are you working long hours? Dealing with a toxic boss or difficult environment? Are you looking for some work stress relief? If so, you are not alone.

An American survey, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, noted that for those working 12 hours a day, there was a 37% increase in risk of illness and injury in comparison to those who work fewer hours.

A study done by Northwestern National Life reports that one-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. (

Twice recently I've heard people say that human beings have become "human doings." Nowhere is this more true than in the workplace.

I used to work 10 - 12 hours a day, take work home, and work on weekends. My family just about gave up on me because every time they mentioned it, I said, "It's only until this project is finished, then I'll get things under control." It never happened. And then I got heart disease.

When I went back to work, I vowed it would be different. I've had to learn stress management techniques, and to delegate and manage my workload and my time more effectively.

The interesting thing is that although I don't work the same long hours as I used to, my output has not decreased in proportion to the cutback in hours. I think the law of diminishing returns is the explanation. When you are working ridiculous hours, at some point you begin "spinning your wheels." You become less effective and you're not even aware of it!

Stress Management at Work

  • Delegate. Don't try to do everything yourself. (I know it's easier said than done).
  • Take mini breaks. A 15 minute coffee break with a co-worker or friend can be a great stress reliever.
  • Take your lunch break. I used to work through lunch all the time. This may be okay once in a while, but it's a bad habit. Meet a friend, eat in the park, read a book, go for a walk. But make sure you take that break. Your mind and body need it.
  • Take vacations. Even if you love your work (I do) you need time away to refresh and recharge.
  • Strive to achieve a good work-life balance. By offsetting the stressful events in your work with plenty of other interests, activities, and pleasurable events, you make life more enjoyable and reduce the risk of burnout.

Finally, if your job causes you undue stress, think about making a change. Is it worth sacrificing your health (and possibly your life) to stay?

How are you dealing with stress and work? Share your successes, horror stories, and stress management strategies with the rest of us!

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