High Stress Jobs May Not Be As Unhealthy as You Think

High demand jobs can certainly cause stress, which can eventually lead to poor health, chronic illness, and even early death. A new study, however, reveals how the concept of “control” may improve your health, even in a high-stress position.

Organizational Behavior

According to the results of a seven-year study, health and mortality are not necessarily linked to a high-demand job. It’s the level of control the employee has (or even perceives she has) that shifts the pendulum.

A worker experiences greater stress and unhappiness when a manager assumes all control. People (employees) want to feel they are part of their activity; they can’t thrive in an environment when someone else makes all the decisions for them.

The Study’s Findings

The researchers at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business discovered some interesting results from their study. They found that those in high-stress jobs with little or no control die younger than those who have some or a lot of control.

“A lot of control” doesn’t mean not having a boss or anyone to be accountable to. It means something as simple as, for example, making your own schedule. Being part of how to set goals and accomplish tasks in the workplace is part of having control. These types of freedoms on the job are empowering to workers.

Good Stress

In fact, a useful and positive observed result was that those in high-demand positions, who also had high-control, actually flourished. Erik Gonzales Mule was the study’s lead author. He suggested that having more control can motivate workers and can breed better health. Mule points out an example: “…having pressure to work fast and use intense concentration, may result in feelings of accomplishment and mastery.”

The study included 2,400 people (half men/half women) and tracked their health for over seven years. Those in high-demand jobs with low control fared the worst. Those in high-stress positions but with high control decreased their chances of earlier death by 34%.

Job Satisfaction

How we perceive our work and workplace definitely affects our overall well-being. If we’re unhappy for the largest portion of our day, behaviors may emerge to mask the bad feelings. This can result in poor diet or overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. Or, the stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure, etc.

So, perhaps it’s not literally “the job.” Maybe it’s how we are allowed to do our job. Having more control can lend to employee feelings of empowerment. Morale at work can be boosted. Instead of seeing work as “hard”, when given the freedom to participate, the work can then be seen as challenging or an opportunity to problem-solve. Those are far more positive outlooks and approaches to doing one’s job.

Personal Stress Management

When you’re at work and finding yourself too stressed out, you can always take a moment for some deep breaths, a quick walk (even around the desk), or a break outdoors. But in addition to your honed coping skills, perhaps think about your company, boss, or management. Do you feel you have low control? If so, perhaps some suggestions to human resources could affect positive change for you and your workplace.

After all, feeling good about your work—whether it pays well, is rewarding spiritually, or makes you feel like you are contributing and/or you’re appreciated—any positive feelings will be part of your best health regimen.

 

 

How to Choose a Job That Makes You Happy

Society has almost brainwashed us into believing that we should only pursue jobs that promise the potential to make a lot of money. One author offers advice on how you can work, earn a living, and be happy doing it.

What the Experts Say

Often we choose a job we think will provide us with ample financial benefits or “security.” Unfortunately, once we accept that position, we may not find it satisfying or rewarding. Believe it or not, there are careers that will make you happy and can become lucrative.

Robert H. Frank, author of an intriguing article published in The New York Times, suggests the first step is to become an expert at something. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell, cites recommendations from other professors and psychologists. They encourage their students and patients to focus on an activity that absorbs them thoroughly. Then, they suggest preparing for a career that “entails tasks as similar as possible to that activity.”

Don’t worry about the money. That’s what the experts say. Choose your desired activity (graphic art, building furniture, studying languages, etc.) and practice it and engage in it for thousands of hours. If you love it, you’ll stay interested. The longer you do it, the more of an expert you’ll become.

Your Expertise Will Pay Off

When you participate in an activity whole-heartedly for a long period of time, you will, no doubt, get better. If you become “the best”, your services will be in high demand—thus bringing you higher pay. Additionally, with technology, your skills will be available to anyone, anywhere. Get great at something, and no matter where you do it, your skills will be worthy and profitable.

And even if you’re not making top dollar, doing what you love will bring an unequivocal amount of deep satisfaction. Frank reminds us of a psychological state called “flow.” Flow is when you become completely immersed in what you’re doing, and the rest of the world disappears. Time drifts by, without you noticing, and you get into the flow. Flow is recognized as one of the most intensely fulfilling states we can experience. If you’ve got a job with “flow,” you are one lucky duck.

Are You on a Mission?

When it comes to job satisfaction, it’s also been proven that you have to feel on par with your company’s mission. If you don’t believe in their basic principles, then you can never be completely happy working with them. Frank points out an outstanding example of such a theory.

He describes two possible job scenarios: One is working for the American Cancer Society and writing ad copy to discourage teen smoking. The other is working for a large tobacco company creating ads to encourage smoking. Both jobs offer the same perks and salary. Which would you choose?

When Frank posed this question to seniors in his class, almost 90 percent said they’d choose to work for the ACS. Then, he asked them how much more money would the tobacco company have to pay them to get them to work there instead. Astoundingly, the consensus from the students is that the tobacco job would have to pay 80 percent more than the ASC position.

We all need to earn a salary to survive. But after the basic bills are paid, if you’re happy every day doing what you love, you really don’t need a lot of extra money. A satisfying existence is worth more than being miserable with extra money in the bank, right?

And who’s to say you can’t have both happiness and financial abundance?

Immune Shroom
Immune Shroom

QUIZ: How is Your Mental Health at Work?

Have you ever wondered about your mental health as it relates to your job?

 

Your mental health affects how you feel, think, and act. Take this quiz to see if it might be time to improve your mental health.

 

  • Read each question
  • Choose the response that most closely fits your situation
  • Upon completion, follow the instructions to reveal your level of mental health

(Don’t worry. If you’re a mess, we offer plenty of tips to get you back on track.

1. When you wake up in the morning, are you…

 

  1. a) Excited to get to work?
  2. b) Dreading the workday?
  3. c) Numb and just do what you have to do?

2. When you first get to work, do you…

  1. a) Jump right into a task?
  2. b) Procrastinate because you can’t bear to start?
  3. c) Take your time and eventually start working?

3. When a coworker talks to you, do you…

  1. a) Enjoy having communication?
  2. b) Cringe and want to be left alone?
  3. c) Smile, but move on?

4. When your boss or manager talks to you, do you…

  1. a) Appreciate the communication?
  2. b) Want to scream and run away?
  3. c) Listen politely and then carry on?

 

5. If you think of your workload, you think…

 

  1. a) ”I’m motivated by the challenge!”
  2. b) ”I just got tossed into the ocean with cement shoes”
  3. c) ”This is what my hamster must feel like on his wheel.”

 

6. When you think of your workspace, you think…

 

  1. a) “It’s really a pleasant space.”
  2. b) ”I’d rather be in a dungeon with rats and snakes.”
  3. c) ”I don’t pay much attention. It’s fine.”

 

7. Do you spend most of your workday thinking about…

 

  1. a) Your job, your family, and how you will spend the weekend?
  2. b) How miserable you are and how you can’t wait to get out of there?
  3. c) Your job, your family, and your problems?

 

8. Is your workspace…

 

  1. a) Neat and organized?
  2. b) Like the aftermath of a tornado site?
  3. c) Messy, but you can find things if you have to?

 

9. Do you feel appreciated or positively acknowledged for the work you do?

  1. a) Absolutely
  2. b) Never
  3. c) Sometimes

10. How many times in the past year have you taken sick days?

 

  1. a) between 0 and 3
  2. b) between 4 and 7
  3. c) between 8 and 15

 

11. Which best describes your daily experience at work?

 

  1. a) Grateful for the job and you typically enjoy your day
  2. b) Worst part of my day
  3. c) It is what it is

 

Congratulations on completing the test (and you didn’t even have to study!)

 

Tally up how many questions you answered with an “a”, “b”, and “c”.

 

If you answered all 12 questions with an “a”, then you are rockin’ it with an abundance of positive mental health. You also, seemingly, have a great job! Keep up the terrific attitude and may good health and many bonuses remain in your future.

 

If you answered 6 or more questions with an “a”, your mental health at work is in pretty good shape. It seems as if you like your job for the most part. Perhaps you have an occasional awkward moment with a coworker or manager. You can improve your well-being by using your break time to take a walk or read a book—find a quiet zone to relieve stress during the workday.

 

If you answered 8 or more questions with a “c”, you may feel a little disconnected. Your mental health could be improved. Perhaps you are too passive. Do you want to feel better at work? Do you want to enjoy your job? It might be time to improve your communication skills. Find ways to address what’s bothering you in an appropriate but direct way. Once you become a bigger part of your company, you will feel more alert and passionate.

 

If you answered mostly “a” and “c”, fret not, because your work mental health glass is still half-full. Although there are issues, you can improve your situation by altering a few small things. Perhaps you feel isolated on the job. Or, maybe you don’t feel properly trained or supported. Or maybe you are fairly motivated and others around you are dragging you down. Take a couple of minutes each day to “meditate” in your workspace. You don’t have to sit cross-legged—just close your eyes and go within. Take a few deep breaths. You will feel renewed and your mental energy will be boosted.

 

If you answered mostly “b” and “c”, you may be struggling more than you need to be. It appears you are not particularly happy, and you’ve given up caring somewhat. It will be a change, but the first step to improving your mental health at work is to focus on the good. It may be a challenge to come up with anything positive off the bat, but don’t stop searching. Even if you like the air conditioning, a particular customer, or that you don’t have to work on the weekend—pick something that pleases you. Also, if your workspace is messy, spend a little time getting organized. You will feel proud and will certainly be more productive.

 

If you answered 9 or more questions with a “b”, it might be time to seek new employment. But, before you blame all your anger or misery on your job, check to see if some of the negativity is coming from within. One thing you can do to improve your mental health at work is to focus on the present. Try not to think of all the distressing things bothering you outside of work. Attempt to stay in the moment and give the job (and yourself) a chance. Put warm, happy photos around your workspace. If you are permitted, play music in the background. There are many ways you can create a more positive experience for yourself, even if the environment isn’t ideal.

 

Dr. Dave Campbell Commentary:

 

The Surgeon General of the United States has described the categories of well-being that affect quality-of-life. Self-perceived health, social-connectedness as well as physical and mental health are three of them. Each can be fostered by a healthy, happy and productive workplace. As a physician, I have many patients tell me something like, “Doc, it feels like I’m always at work with no time for myself or my family and friends”.  Odds are that nearly as much time of your time is spent on the job as at home-awake that is.

Remind yourself that it could be worse. Many countries are not as prosperous as the United States. Many people in this country and across the world don’t even have jobs to go to. Take a hard look at your own circumstances in the workplace. Look for the good and foster them. Identify those factors that make for a bad day at work and make them better-with effort.

 

For more information about your mental health, check out GetThrive.com today!