We Believe It: Study Says Workplace Stress Can Be As Deadly As Secondhand Smoke

September 9, 2015  |  

People have been saying for some time now to try and get a grip at work. Yeah, someone might test you and catch a professional beat down (side note: If you discover ways to do this without getting arrested or fired, come find me), but this isn’t the kind of stress researchers are focusing on. A new study coming from folks at Stanford University and the Harvard Business School has shocking revelations about workplace stress — including how deadly it can be.

Focusing on a series of common stressors that include schedules and hours, benefits and job demand — along with a cross-examination of other studies (oh yeah, they’re serious) — experts have determined the more stress an employee has, the worse off their health is. Well, um, obviously that’s nothing new for us as we know the perfect mix of stupid and deadlines can result in an ulcer. What’s worth a mention, however, is that most health outcomes are similar to those who suffer from secondhand smoke.

Did I mention death is one of them?

Hold the phones and take a message…what?! You mean to tell me being stressed on the job can lead to a headache and death? Obviously the deadly part isn’t common, but feel free to forward the study to your boss — along with a request to use a few personal days to reflect…with a glass of wine, some really good takeout and a DVR full of shows you need to watch.

All jokes aside, this study reiterates something most of us have known for years: Too much job stress can send you to an early grave, or at the very least, cause a ton of health problems. The fact that those with crazy high work demands are 35 percent more likely to develop a medical condition is some pretty scary stuff. Failure to give workplace stress the proper attention it deserves can not only lead to an imbalanced work-life situation, but also disease and poor mental health.

Hopefully companies and employers will take a look at studies like these findings and reconsider the current practices they have in place. Too many people are skipping out on much needed vacation out of fear of losing their job (this study also points out lack of employment security can increase your chances of poor health by 50 percent), or try their best to work unrealistic deadlines. There comes a point when something has to give, and hopefully for you, it’s not your health.

I know it’s easier said than done, but professionals who are working around the clock might want to rethink their hustle. Yes, there are bills that need to be paid, but running yourself in the ground is proving to be more and more detrimental to your health. The last thing any loved one needs is for you to be shut up in a hospital somewhere (or worse) because of workplace stress. This is one of the reasons I left my freelancing lifestyle for a full-time position (ironically, a freelancing gig I was working turned into a great opportunity that allowed me to stop being a one woman circus). Of course it’s no foolproof way of protecting myself against stress (it’s bound to happen), but luckily, I found a company that does its best to reduce job stress for the sake of productivity.

Remember, there’s only one life you can live and one version of you.

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