This Is How Your Stressful Job Is Secretly Affecting Your Mental Health
A stressful job can have serious consequences on your body. While having a few bad days is normal, an overcrowded schedule, a poor work environment or a toxic culture can have a real impact on employees.
Constant stress can often to depressive symptoms and plenty of other mental health issues. Here are some signs that show your job already has already worsened your mental health.
You Have a Poor Sleep Schedule
Is worrying about your job keeping you up at night? A few restless nights aren’t usually an issue, but when it turns into a consistent pattern, it’s a sign of a much deeper problem. One study on sleep, health and wellness at work confirmed that work-related sleep disorders have short- and long-term effects on your mental health.
An irregular sleep schedule can also cause a decline in the nervous system. To combat a poor sleep schedule, stick to a schedule and avoid stimulants and electronics before bed.
Frequent Headaches and Migraines
How many times have you had a stressful workday only to have it become more stressful after a headache or a migraine? If you let it turn into a pattern, this problem can make you struggle not just at work, but through life in general.
The American Migraine Foundation states that constant work stress can result in frequent headaches and even migraines. To make matters worse, migraines can persist even after stress levels lower once the body becomes accustomed to surviving under such high pressure.
Clenching Your Teeth Without Noticing
A National Center for Biological Technology (NCBI) study closely examined bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, and its correlation with emotional stability and overall stress. It demonstrated that work-related stress often contributes to overall anxiety, which in turn results in the development of neuroticism-related traits, including bruxism.
Grinding your teeth, knowingly or unknowingly, is a sign of greater anxiety problems. This is your reminder to unclench your jaw and take a deep breath — especially if you’re reading this at your workplace and are under stress.
While a regular workday may leave you tired, you shouldn’t feel completely burned out for the rest of the day. If that happens, it could be a sign of poor work-life balance and significant problems with stress.
Factors that contribute to burnout include frequent overtime hours, shift work, little or no vacation time and frequent conflicts with supervisors. Combined, these problems can leave you unable to meet other challenges in life.
You Can’t Stop Working or Thinking About Work
When work life is stressful, it’s hard to switch off your brain and focus on other tasks. A UK population-based study suggests there’s a direct correlation between long working hours and symptoms of depression, especially if your work environment isn’t a positive one.
Being under constant pressure makes it impossible to disconnect and nourish your life outside of work. This can lead to a person neglecting their physical, social or emotional needs and in turn generate even more stress and depression.
Your Appetite Changes
Harvard researchers confirmed that work-related stress affects your overall appetite. Whether it’s eating too much or not eating enough, it’s clear that a toxic work environment negatively affects nutrition and a person’s relationship with food.
Stress eating has been highlighted as a common way for employees to cope with work pressure, leading to an increased intake of fat and sugar. The overindulgence of comfort foods in turn can lead to serious health problems.
Gut Health Problems
Stress can easily affect gut health. According to Harvard, frequent exposure to stressful situations at work triggers psychosocial factors related to the gut that can make infections, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome and more.
If left untreated, an unhealthy gut can also lead to other symptoms such as weight loss or gain, sleep problems and more. If you’re experiencing gut problems, you should immediately consult your doctor.
The Office Is No Longer a Positive Space
Have you ever gotten your dream job at a dream company only to be left feeling completely drained from it just a couple of months later? When your office is no longer an environment that can help you grow creatively, coming to work stops being a healthy experience.
According to Forbes, signs that you’re in a toxic workplace include needing to commiserate often with colleagues, narcissistic management, lack of transparency, inconsistent rules and frequent employee burnouts. If you start noticing any of these symptoms at your own workplace, you might notice they’re also affecting your mental health.
You Call in Sick Often — Even When You're Not
When you don’t want to show up to work, it’s hard to even get out of bed in the morning. Calling in sick when you’re unwell is standard practice, but if you call in sick because you don’t want to deal with work, that’s another thing.
A highly stressful job can make you more prone to sickness since you may not be taking care of your body, but it can also make you feel unable to cope with work even when you’re well. It’s important to take mental health days and to evaluate if it’s worth it to compromise your health due to work stress.
You Physically Struggle to Get to Work
Getting out of bed is something most people dread, but when work starts to compromise your mental health, it can be almost impossible to get up and go. Your mind is too focused on everything that you’ll have to deal with throughout the day, making it very hard to stay motivated.
If you physically aren’t able to get to work without feeling overly tired or completely deflated, it may be time to talk to a doctor or counselor to determine the underlying issues and symptoms causing them.
Frequent Panic Attacks
If a toxic workplace is out of control, you might experience panic and anxiety attacks — especially if you aren’t able to escape it. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that many psychological disorders can trigger a panic attack, and they can occur under a variety of conditions.
If work is frequently making you anxious, you might experience panic attack symptoms. These include chills, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath or even fears of dying. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Zero Work Boundaries
Do you frequently stay late at work, arrive early, work on weekends and constantly overthink work-related issues? Your work-life balance is extremely important to your overall health, and you may need to set more work boundaries to balance your work and outside life successfully.
Establishing work boundaries includes leaving work at work and making sure you have enough time for yourself. If you frequently spend time outside of work with co-workers, set up a rule where you don’t talk about anything office related during those times.
Struggling to Focus
When your mind is too occupied or worried, you struggle to focus. Concentration at work is extremely important in order to do your job, but if you’re in a hectic environment, you might find yourself jumping from one task to another.
WebMD notes a loss of focus is one of the side effects of untreated or overlooked depression. If you’re experiencing any concentration issues, try making a to-do list and tackling your tasks based on priorities. If you have too much to do, make sure you speak to your boss.
Anger and Irritation
When you’re put under a lot of stress, it’s easy to get angry and irritated over the smallest things. This may happen at work or even in your everyday life. You might find yourself irrationally angry at that long queue at your regular coffee shop in the mornings.
It’s important to acknowledge and control your emotions. Alongside many other studies, Harvard researchers note that a daily meditation practice can help you tackle those emotions and deal with them in a healthy way.
Work During the Weekend
Today’s unavoidable hustle culture promotes work at all times in order to get ahead in life. Many employees frequently work on weekends in order to prove themselves to their bosses, but over time, they might start experiencing some of the stress symptoms highlighted in this article.
It may be time to set clear boundaries around your work life and keep weekends to yourself. It’s an important time to relax, work on other passions and grow creatively. These things all help you perform better in your workplace and out of it.
Thinking About Work Makes You Nervous
Does your heart race when you think about work? This is just one of the symptoms of a high-pressure work environment. Whether it’s needlessly difficult upper management or just a hectic schedule, when the very thought of work causes anxiety, there’s a problem.
While this may be a symptom of poor work boundaries, it could also mean there are larger problems at your place of employment. If that’s the case, it’s important to identify the source of anxiety and consult either your boss or a counselor. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to find a new position.
Alienation From Friends and Family
When you’re busy, you don’t have a lot of time to see the people that are important in your life. On top of that, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned here, you might find yourself struggling to connect with others. Social isolation has serious effects on mental health.
The American Psychology Association (APA) states that loneliness can occur in any situation, even when a person is surrounded by others. Making meaningful connections is an important step to combat loneliness, but you can’t do that if you're overly focused on work.
You Respond Poorly to Feedback
When your work life becomes toxic, you may find yourself unable to receive feedback without taking it personally. Because a person’s emotions are at an all-time high when stressed, any feedback may result in irritation or even verbal confrontation with a superior.
Being able to take feedback from others is an important workplace skill, and failing to do so may bring on plenty of other issues. Eliminating or reducing sources of stress that may lead to this maladaptive behavior is essential for workplace success.
Self-care Is No Longer a Priority
Have you stopped taking care of yourself because work is always on your mind? Taking care of your emotional, mental and physical health is a necessity. When people devote too much time to work, self-care often takes a backseat, either knowingly or unknowingly.
PsychCentral states that self-care helps improve morale and reduce anxiety. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, spending time with loved ones, taking a walk, or anything else that benefits your wellbeing, self-care should always be a priority.
Increased Anxiety Levels
An NCBI study highlighted that work stress has a direct impact on increased anxiety levels and in some cases even depression. That means individuals without previous anxiety symptoms may experience anxiety more frequently than those with a pre-job history of diagnosis or treatment.
Workplaces should reduce workload and overall stress to a reasonable level in order to allow employees to cope and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you do experience anxiety, please consult your doctor or a mental health professional in order to make sure your symptoms don’t get any worse.
While stress occurs in the mind, it manifests in plenty of other forms, including achy muscles. The American Institute of Stress notes that neck aches, back pain and muscle spasms may be symptoms of stress.
Achy muscles can be countered by relaxing baths, massages and comfortable clothing and furniture. When at work, especially in an office setting, it’s extremely important to pay attention to posture in order not to strain your neck or back.
Every Day Is Exactly the Same
When you repeat the same routine, even small challenges seem daunting. Whether it’s simply checking email or speaking with clients or supervisors, doing the same thing every single day can become unappealing when a workplace has a toxic environment.
This results in anger and exhaustion from work, which in turn can cause reckless behavior. To avoid this, make sure to change your work environment. Listen to music, change locations if possible or reorder your schedule
You Constantly Think You’re Going to Get Fired
When upper management is the reason for a toxic workplace, being let go might be constantly on your mind. This puts a lot of pressure on employees, but it also makes them more irritated and apologetic when something goes wrong or a mistake is made.
To avoid that, make sure you have regular discussions with your immediate management to fully understand job expectations and your own ability to meet them. Performance reviews and appraisals are often encouraged in the workplace to make sure employees and employers are both happy and able to discuss any issues that might arise.
If you’re exposed to stress and anger every single day, you could find yourself becoming more and more negative and start to rant about work situations at home. And although it’s important to have someone to commiserate with, having the right outlet also matters.
If you don’t have an outlet for work stress, you might start unleashing it all on the people close to you. Whether it’s your roommates or a romantic partner, you might notice that your work stress affects the people you care about as well. A counselor can help mitigate this problem.
Coming Home From Work Leaves You Completely Drained
Do you come back from work just to crash in your bed and repeat it all the next day, without doing anything fun outside of work? This can be a sign that your entire body is under severe pressure. .
You might even have stopped engaging in activities that used to bring you joy. Being disengaged is often a sign of depression, and if you’ve noticed these symptoms, you should immediately get in touch with a mental health professional or doctor.
Work Affect Your Relationships
Whether it’s because you no longer have time to pursue your social life or you simply can’t stop talking about work, a toxic workplace can have negative effects on your relationships. When a job costs you friends and family, something needs to change.
Nourishing your social life is as necessary as eating or drinking and should be just as much a priority as work life. If you find yourself struggling to repair relationships damaged by work stress, you may need to reconsider how to manage your job.
Loss of Libido
Have you thrown in the towel when it comes to the bedroom because of a toxic work environment and the stress that comes along with it? Stress may lead to a loss of sex drive, which could also negatively affect romantic relationships.
An NCBI study confirmed a correlation between chronic stress and sexual function, especially for women. Sexual health is just as important as any other kind of health, which is just one more reason why identifying and treating workplace stress is worth your time.
Relationships With Co-Workers Suffers
Not only does work stress affect personal relationships, but it can also lead to even more negativity in the workplace. Irritability or negativity can harm workplace relations, thereby making the workplace even less productive and more stressful.
While commiseration about daily struggles is normal, overindulging in complaining about the workplace can turn off co-workers and make doing your job even harder, sparking a cycle of bad behavior. It’s important to set up boundaries with yourself and others to ensure productive work relationships.
Your Stress Is Making You Nauseous
While this article has covered many stress symptoms, two that haven’t been discussed yet are nausea and dizziness. They might be a result of a panic attack or an inability to keep food down due to changes in appetite.
Nausea caused by stress can lead to other problems such as weight loss and dizziness if not addressed. If you experience nausea due to stress, consult your doctor or another medical professional you trust immediately.
You’re Experiencing Burnout
If these other problems are far enough along, you’re probably experiencing burnout. Overthinking, a loss of focus, poor sleeping habits or any other combination of traits from this list that are severe enough could be a sign that you’ve hit rock bottom.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that in order to handle burnout, you should seek support from a mental health professional and evaluate your options with your supervisor. If necessary, it may even be worth considering a shift to a less stressful position — one where you can succeed in your job without destroying your mental health.