Everyone has bad days at work / job but there are signs that employees need to watch out for before a bad week at the office turns into never-ending debilitating work stress that is ruining your health.
Too many people are trapped in toxic jobs, a problem employers and employees need to take more seriously.
According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational behavior professor at Stanford who wrote the book “Dying for a Paycheck” found through his research that poor management in U.S. companies accounted for up to 8 percent of annual health costs and was associated with 120,000 excess deaths every year.
Your body may know before you fully do that your job is to blame for your stress symptoms, sending you red alerts that you are not okay.
You can’t sleep
“A lot of times the first thing we’ll hear about is sleepless nights,”. People report either not being able to sleep because their mind is racing or not being able to stay asleep. They wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their to-do list.
A few restless nights is not a huge deal but if it becomes a pattern that may be a sign your job stress has become toxic.
“If it’s consistently related to work, that is a sign that something is off-balance,”.
You get headaches
Your muscles tense up to guard your body from injury.
When you see the workplace as a danger zone, it keeps your muscles wound tight. Chronic tension in the neck, shoulders and head can be associated with migraines and tension headaches.
Stress creates physiological symptoms, and that manifests as pain.
Your muscles in general ache
When your job is toxic, it can feel like you’re fighting off a wild tiger at your desk. Under a perceived threat, your brains flood your system with adrenaline and other stress hormones.
Our nervous systems in toxic jobs are constantly on edge. “We are constantly anticipating, ready to react to an unpleasant boss or co-worker.”
If you are always typing “just following up” emails with your shoulders hunched and your jaw clenched, this could be a sign that your job is impacting your health.
Your mental health gets worse
It is noted that increased stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues. Someone who might be a worrier in a really toxic work environment; that worry will often exacerbate to cross the clinical threshold.
If you feel like your boss is always out to get you, your mental health pays a price. One 2012 analysis of 279 studies linked perceptions of organizational unfairness with employee health complaints such as overeating and depression.
It is said that unfair treatment at work can cause us outsized stress.
“Injustice is a particularly toxic stressor because it strikes at the core of who we are,”. “When you treat me unfairly you attack my dignity as a person —essentially saying that I don’t deserve fair treatment or to be treated the same as others.”
You get sick more often
If you are catching colds constantly, consider how you are feeling about your job. A large body of research shows that chronic stress can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
You lose interest in sex
How you spend your time reflects what you value. When you bring your work home with you, your relationships can suffer. It can reduce sexual desire. For men, this chronic stress can result in lower testosterone production which in turn leads to lower libido.
There has to be a certain amount of relaxation in order to allow the arousal feeling to rise. “Then there’s the time factor. People report not having enough time to have sex.”
You are tired all the time
This is fatigue, a bone-deep weariness that no nap or weekend lie-in seems to cure.
There is no set way that individuals react to a toxic workplace,” fatigue is in the range of physical symptoms employees may feel.
Toxic jobs can create a cycle that drains us, said Pfeffer. “You’re feeling overwhelmed, because you’re working too long, and you’re working too long because you’re feeling overwhelmed,” he said.
Your stomach is acting up
Indigestion, constipation, bloating can all be associated with stress, because stress impacts what the gut digests and can also change our gut bacteria, which in turn impacts our mood.
It’s why you may get stomach pangs when you are upset.
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Your appetite changes
Your appetite is closely linked to your brain. Under acute stress, your fight-or-flight response releases adrenaline, telling your body to suppress digestion to focus on saving us from a perceived danger. Under long-term stress, though, your body’s adrenal glands release and build up cortisol, a hormone which can increase hunger.
When your job is causing long-term emotional distress, you may turn to food for comfort.
What you can do to combat this
Take breaks. After your body goes on high alert to defend you from unreasonable demands and bad bosses, you need to give it time off.
When we don’t give our nervous system an opportunity to relax and reset itself, it starts to cause long-term damage. companionship outside of the workplace, meditation and exercise can help to offset the stress symptoms.
Reframe your negative thinking. One of the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy is that how you think can change how you feel.
“It’s not possible for everyone to switch jobs but we can focus on the situation that we can control ”. We can use mindfulness to manage our unhelpful rumination about how the presentation went or what our colleagues are thinking about us.
See this as the warning that you need to get a new job or else. Pfeffer said that long hours, absence of autonomy, uncertain scheduling and economic insecurity at jobs are all factors that contribute to a toxic workplace environment that employees need to leave behind, not just cope with.
“You need to fix the underlying problem, not deal with the symptoms,” he said.