Working in a high-stress job can affect not only your mood but also your health. In fact, studies show that workplaces that promote stress can lead to employees developing coronary heart disease or high blood pressure. This could be for a variety of reasons, including the direct effects of stress on the body and also the lifestyle choices that being in a stressful environment causes people to make.
Read on to find out what can stress can do to the body and how you might be able to mitigate the risks if you are in a difficult situation.
The effect of stress on the body
When you go to work in a stressful environment, you can expect to be living with increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. It is believed that people respond to these hormones in very different ways. Some, for instance, might suffer from panic attacks or may notice that they experience more headaches. For others, the presence of the stress hormones might mean that they can’t process glucose as well, increasing their vulnerability to diabetes.
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health found that stress hormones raise cholesterol levels in some people. It’s thought that the hormones might cause the body to increase inflammatory responses, which can then cause lipid production to increase. Of course, excess cholesterol is linked to high blood pressure place, so working in a stressful environment can have a direct impact on coronary health. Although hypertension can easily be treated in various ways, it’s better to avoid the stress that causes it in the first place.
The lifestyle choices that we make when exposed to stressful situations can also have a direct impact on health – for instance, what we eat, and even when we eat can be a factor. When we are stressed, the last thing we want to do is spend time preparing nutritious meals. Many end up just reaching for processed foods to satisfy their hunger. Stress can also lead to overeating. Of course, not eating the right foods and eating too much of them can lead to obesity, which has many adverse effects on health.
Stress also causes us to lose sleep. It can be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep when our brains are busy running through the events of an active and hectic day. Switching off becomes almost impossible. Lack of sleep can also have disastrous consequences for health, and further compounds the difficulties many face with stress. Sufferers can end up caught in a stress cycle that affects their health negatively.
What to do to improve health
If you are in a stressful situation at work, the very best thing that you can do is to address the main cause of the issue. Try sitting back and taking a look at the stressful aspects of your job and think if there is anything practical that you can do about it.
If so, speak to your manager and create a plan of action to make the right changes to limit your stressful experiences. If you struggle to find anything, talk with your manager and tell them how you are feeling anyway. You should work together to eliminate stress from your role as much as possible.
Make the right lifestyle choices
It is not always possible to limit stressful experiences at the source, and there will always be times when stress will take hold of your life anyway. You will need to work hard to make sure you can make the right lifestyle choices, even when you are suffering. Perhaps you could batch cook on your days off so that there are always nutritious meals in the freezer that you can eat when you don’t feel like cooking.
You could also try exercising as a way to help clear your mind of the stresses of your job after a busy day. You might feel tired, but exercising is one of the best ways to promote a healthy sleep routine, and could actually help you feel more refreshed. It’s important to recognize what your triggers are in advance, and plan how to best manage them
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