Your Job Making You Sick? 6 Ways To Save Your Mental, Physical Health

Stress at work is bad for your health, but you can manage it.

Stress at work is bad for your health, but you can manage it.

Every workplace, organization and professional culture has stressful points. We are all under extreme pressure at some point to deliver outcomes, meet deadlines and stretch ourselves—regardless of what career tier we are on.

The point is to work hard, right? But the risk to over-work is that it is bad for our physical and mental health.

new study shows that “mentally taxing” work and long hours can lead to diabetes in women.

In the study of 70,000 women, according to Medical News Today, “those who said that their job was very mentally taxing at the start of the study were 21 percent more likely to develop the condition than women with “little or not mentally tiring work.”

The point is to work hard, right? But the risk to over-work is that is bad for our physical and #mentalhealth. #selfcare

The researchers concluded,”These observational results suggest the importance of taking into consideration the potential long-term metabolic impact of work-related stress for women working in a demanding environment.”

It may seem like common sense that stress and over work are not good for you, but new research shows that overworking can also cause depression.

Read more in Take The Lead on mental health initiatives in the workplace.

A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health “reports that women who worked 55 hours or more a week and/or who worked most/every weekend experienced significantly more depressive symptoms than women working standard hours,” according to Healthline.

It may seem like common sense that stress and over work are not good for you, but new #research shows that overworking can cause #depression. #WorkLifeBalance

“’There’s something called ‘weisure’ that refers to people not having a work-life balance, where they work and grab moments of leisure when they can,” Deborah Serani, PsyD, professor of psychology at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, told Healthline. “We’ve seen this since the Internet and cell phones and how they really negatively impact mental health because you don’t get to reboot, you don’t get to refuel.”

According to Fox Business, “In the United States, 44 million adults – about one in five – have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. This is a rising health challenge that does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, education, or career. Those living with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders often experience strained relationships at home and at work.”

Fox Business reports, “According to a new survey by Harris Insights and Analytics for the American Heart Association, there’s much work to be done to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. The survey revealed that 63 percent of employees who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder say they have not told their employer about their diagnosis.”

Read more in Take The Lead on stress and health.

The report continues, “The same survey showed an overwhelming majority of employees see mental health as a clear priority in the workplace, with nearly 88 percent of respondents stating that employers have a responsibility to support their employees’ overall mental health.”

So what can you do to keep healthy, stay stress free and feel calm and competent about yourself and your work?

Talk to your team about how you are feeling. “The American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, “Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis Opens a New Window. ” offers actionable strategies employers can implement and showcases mental health programs and services among CEO Roundtable member organizations that are making this a priority for their workforces,” Fox Business reports. “Business leaders can encourage employees to have open conversations about mental health issues and foster environments that support treatment when needed.”

No shame, be self-aware. Many of us have left a conference or a meeting extremely upset. Don’t blame yourself for being emotional or overreacting; realize that your anxiety and distress are real. “The first step is for employers to recognize and acknowledge mental health disorders are far more common than people think. When managers are trained to recognize when people need support, they are better equipped to refer their employees to resources and programs that can help,” Fox Business reports.

Seek support individually and through your team. Your human resources department will be able to connect you with services, and you may also search online for mental health assistance tools. According to Tech Crunch, new digital solutions are emerging. “Unmind, a U.K.-based startup that offers a mental health platform for the workplace, has raised £3 million in new funding. Founded in 2016, Unmind is a B2B service that provides clinically backed tools, training and assessments for company employees in a bid to improve workplace mental health. The digital platform, delivered through the Unmind mobile app, includes bite-sized exercises for everyday wellbeing, personalized assessments, and customized programs for improving areas such as stress, focus, and sleep.”

Read more in Take The Lead on managing stress on vacation.

Be mindful of your health and your team’s. If you are a manager or in a leadership position, make sure you communicate the importance of mental health and well-being for everyone on the team. According to Healthday, “Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health, says, “Global rates of depression, anxiety and suicide are increasing each year, but less than half of people with mental health conditions receive treatment that would benefit them. It’s a problem that impacts everyone – from employees in the front lines to those in the executive suites.” She adds that employers need to employ seven actionable strategies: “leadership; organizational and environmental support; communications; programs and benefits; engagement; community partnership; and reporting outcomes.”

Gratitude can improve well-being. It sounds entirely too simplistic, but a new study shows that gratitude in the workplace improves physical and mental health of workers. Market Business reports, Researchers at Portland State University found that “a positive relationship between gratitude in the workplace and satisfaction. This subsequently predicted better sleep, fewer headaches and healthier eating.”

Arrange mini-escapes and encounters with the arts.  Discovery of expressions of creativity whether you and the team head to a museum, gallery, show, or performance, can provide respite and renewal for you and your team. According to Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, “In my own leadership experience and now as someone who trains and consults with leaders, I observe that those who engage in any of the arts, whether as an active participant or a fan, benefit greatly from it.”

What can you do to keep #healthy, stay #stressfree and feel calm and competent about yourself and your work? Talk to your team about how you’re feeling, stay self-aware, seek support, and express gratitude in the workplace.

According to Feldt, “Art opens the mind and feeds a leader’s soul because by listening, looking, or creating, you expand your own appreciation of diverse talent and cultures. Empathy is enhanced and that in turn draws people together. I routinely build poetry, drawing, and music into our 50 Women Can Change The World programs.”

Feldt writes, “It lets you see differently, think differently, and do differently. Art shakes out the mental cobwebs so you can innovate and solve complex problems. It builds empathy and enables you to coalesce others around a vision. It’s chicken soup for the leader’s soul.”

Make a big change if you must. Beth Doane writes in Forbes, “Running the show is riding a roller coaster. The level of stress and the weight of uncertainty and anxiety are nearly unbearable to many. Can you consistently hire the right talent and fire the wrong talent? Can you deal with unforeseeable market shifts? Late nights? Last minute travel? Product failures? Legal issues? Everyone is different, and there’s no one path toward taking care of your mental health but not everyone is cut out for being a founder or CEO. Figure out now if this life is what you really want. It’s better to walk away if it’s not for you. Know that it’s OK to do that. ”

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About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon