WHY ARE YOU SO SURPRISED THAT YOUR JOB IS KILLING YOU? - ROOFTOP PERSPECTIVES # 12
You might joke about your job sucking the life out of you, but there’s actually truth behind the chuckles; office life can be deadly. Sitting for hours upon hours, being exposed to fluorescent light, eating lunches out, and dealing with regular stress can take a major toll on your physical and mental health. Here, we’ll explore 25 signs that your seemingly harmless job has the potential to kill you.
1. You can’t sleep at night
If you’re just one of many workers that trudge around the office with an empty coffee cup and bags under your eyes, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. If you’re experiencing insomnia, your work may be to blame. The Mayo Clinic has identified that one of the primary causes of insomnia is stress, and not just any stress: workplace stress is the worst offender.
2. You’ve had a heart attack
This clear sign makes it obvious that you need to chill out at work, but it’s amazing how many people will actually ignore the signs of an impending heart attack. Litigator Jo Anne Shumard had a heart attack at the age of 39, pulling all-nighters on Wednesdays and Thursdays to be able to spend all weekend with her family without regard to the toll on her health. She even ignored the symptoms of her heart attack, as it was happening, for two and a half hours. An incident such as Shumard’s is a pretty obvious indicator that things aren’t all right at work.
3. You have no control
One of the most stressful parts of any job is a major lack of control, leading to anger and hostility. Not surprisingly, anger and hostility are the emotions most strongly associated with heart disease.
4. You have a physical reaction to your boss
If you feel queasy, butterflies in your stomach, or even pain in your shoulder when you hear your coworker’s or boss’ voice, you’re feeling emotional distress. Ignoring this distress can lead to fatigue, stress, and even serious harm to your physical and emotional well-being.
5. You’re frequently sick
Modern offices can be a hotbed for germs, with no end to the surfaces where bacteria can lurk and grow: your phone, keyboard, mouse, even your desktop might be full of more germs than your average public toilet seat. Perhaps that’s why you’ve got a persistent case of the sniffles or you have to call in sick with the flu.
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6. You’re a high achiever, not a high earner
“Frustrated go-getters” fit a Psychology Today profile of workers who work extremely hard, but don’t necessarily get rewarded for their efforts. This is what’s known as an “effort-reward imbalance” that quickly leads to burnout.
7. You have headaches, all the time
Computer screens undoubtedly cause eye strain, with 50% to 90% of computer users reporting symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (yes, it’s real). Prolonged computer screen exposure can even lead to nearsightedness and glaucoma.
8. You work in a persistently noisy workplace
Noisy workplaces —those that are so loud, it’s difficult to talk in a normal tone of voice — are seriously hazardous to your heart health. Researchers have found that workers in these types of offices are two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems than peers in a quiet workplace. It seems that being exposed to constant workplace noise causes physical and emotional stress for all of the hours that you’re at work, leading to isolated diastolic hypertension.
9. You’re having sexual difficulty
Stress, heart disease, and time away from home are all workplace problems that can interfere with your sex life. But did you know that the lights at your office could be killing your sexual buzz? Fluorescent or too-bright lights, known in the medical community as over-illumination, can lead to a decrease in sexual function.
10. You can’t have kids
Beyond interfering with sexual function, your workplace might actually be making you infertile. Health care workers and pharmacists may be exposed to agents like cancer treatment drugs that can result in infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects, while even office workers may experience premature delivery or even miscarriage due to prolonged standing or heavy lifting.
11. You’re getting fat
Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day instead of being active can actually make you fat. Imagine that. Throw in regular lunches out and an all-too-tempting vending machine, and it’s even worse. With a sedentary job, you’re likely to gain weight, as your metabolism drops and your waistline expands. This can lead to a long list of problems, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
12. You can’t concentrate
Old wrappers, books you’ll never read, and mountains of Post-It notes aren’t just annoying to look at, they’re downright stressful. All that desk clutter can really make a difference on your mental state, killing your productivity and mental clarity, problems that can lead to more serious issues like stress and deadly distraction.
13. You have arthritis and/or bursitis
Sitting at your desk for hours upon hours each day isn’t just making you fat; it’s killing you from the inside. You’re doing long-term damage to your joints, spine, muscles, and tendons by working at a desk without proper ergonomics.
14. You’re eating junk food
Working often means that you’ll get out to eat for lunch. Make the right choices, and there’s no harm, but typically, eating out means bad news for your health. Drive-thru lunches, steak dinners, and hundreds, even thousands of extra calories can really add up.
15. Your office equipment is embarrassingly old
Older office equipment tends to have fewer ergonomic functions, offering fewer adjustable parts and other factors that make it easier to be comfortable and healthy at work. If your chair won’t adjust and you haven’t seen so much as a wrist rest in the office, there’s a good chance you’re working with out-of-date equipment that can really cause problems.
16. You have carpal tunnel syndrome
Repetitive motion, such as typing, clicking your mouse, or answering your phone, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome presents itself with sharp pain, tingling, numbness, and itching. You’re causing actual nerve damage, which may need to be repaired with surgery.
17. You have lower back pain
Once again, sitting at your desk is a major health hazard, as bad posture can have a terrible toll on your body over time and lead to back pain. Back pain is a major reason for missed work and can become a chronic issue that impacts your life.
18. You have neck strain, too
Back pain gets a lot of attention in workplace hazards, but neck strain can be a serious problem, too. Cradling the telephone handset in the crook of your neck can cause long-term damage to your neck muscles. Do it too much, and you’ll find that it takes longer and longer to stretch out of the position, possibly leading to osteoarthritis.
19. You’re bored to death
It’s true; you really can be bored to death. According to researchers at University College London, high levels of tedium are associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke. That means being bored at work may actually be taking years off of your life.
20. You’re working at night
If you’re working a night job or rotate shifts during the week, it may be taking a serious toll on your health. Shift work is associated with serious health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. It can even result in ulcers, depression, and an increased risk of injury.
21. You’re always sitting
If you’ve got an office job, there’s a good chance you’re sitting for eight or more hours per day, moving only your eyes and fingers. All the running and iron pumping in the world can’t make up for it. Sitting for a prolonged amount of time can increase your risk of just about everything terrible, from heart disease and obesity to diabetes, hypertension, and even some cancers.
22. Your deadlines are killing your brain
Constant stress is dangerous for your heart and overall wellness, but short-term stress, like that associated with deadlines at work, can do a real number on your brain. A University of California, Irvine study found that short-term stress, even as little as a few hours, can impair your brain-cell communication in the parts of your brain associated with learning and memory.
23. You’re the victim of workplace violence
Disgruntled employees, customers, even random acts of violence can happen in the office. If you work in an environment where emotions run high, it’s possible that you might become the victim of workplace violence. Risk factors include working where there is an exchange or guard of money, interaction with the public, or working early or late in the day alone or in small groups.
24. You have poor mental health
Job stress is a common predictor of mental disorders. Meaning, your job might actually be making you crazy. Risk factors for job-induced mental disorders include job strain, low decision latitude, and high job insecurity.
25. You’ve experienced a gas or chemical leak
In offices moving into older facilities, or those that share a manufacturing space, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be subject to a gas or chemical leak. Asbestos, carbon monoxide, and other workplace hazards can turn deadly.
We’ve all fallen victim to a job that seemed to suck the souls out of us. You might know the feeling — undue stress, high expectations, little return for hard work and so on. In a society that values hard work and professionalism, it can be difficult to recognize you’re in one of these toxic work situations.
Perhaps you’re the loyal type who’ll do anything for your employer, no matter the personal cost. Or the income is great, so you suffer through rough workdays to achieve your financial dreams. Others absolutely love their jobs but just can’t bring in the income they deserve. Whatever the reason, it might be time to let go of a toxic job if you find yourself saying "my job is killing me" and seek a better future. Here five signs your job is killing you, along with how to find a better one.
5 signs your job is killing you
It can be difficult to decide if you should stick through a rough patch at work or move on to something better. But how do you know if you should leave your job? Here are some signs that your current job is not adding value to your life.
1. You dread going into work.
It can take some time to get adjusted to a new job. But if you’ve been at it for months and still have trouble walking through the door without your chest tightening, it might be a sign that it’s time to move on. Don’t spend your life working at a job that fills you with constant dread.
2. There’s no opportunity for advancement.
So, you’ve been with your company for some time, but it seems like you’ve hit a wall. Perhaps you’ve been passed on multiple promotions or you’ve asked for advancement opportunities and hit a dead end. Why stay at a job where you aren’t allowed to grow and achieve your very best?
3. You work with toxic people.
Toxic people in the workplace can be a killer. Sometimes it’s just one or two coworkers who you can learn to live with. Other times, a manager or supervisor makes it impossible for you to succeed. You’ll probably never feel comfortable or happy in a workplace filled with negative energy.
4. The work is too easy or too challenging.
Work with no challenges is boring. You need to face challenges so you can overcome them and grow in your confidence. At the same time, a job that is much too challenging can make you feel incompetent and stressed. It’s important to find work that allows you to face and solve obstacles while not killing yourself in the process.
5. Work is impacting your personal life.
If your job is causing so much chaos that you can’t sleep at night, it’s probably time to move on. Likewise, a job that cuts into your personal time can take a hit on your family and social life. Everyone needs downtime. Don’t let your job suck everything out of you.
How to resign when you’ve had enough
When you’ve finally decided enough is enough, make sure to resign with grace. You don’t want to burn bridges, lose a potential reference or hurt your valuable reputation. Show your employer respect if you want to be respected in return.
Create a plan.
Do you have a job lined up for when it’s time to go? If not, how will you pay your bills while you search for something new? Savings? Help from family and friends? Before you quit, be sure you’re prepared to ensure your financial success and well-being. Don’t quit until you feel confident you’ll be able to succeed.
Give advance notice.
The gold standard is to offer at least two weeks’ notice before leaving a job. The more notice you give, the better. Remember that your employer needs to find someone to fill your position, train them and make other preparations. It’s courteous to give them time to prepare.
Write a resignation letter.
A resignation letter is the formal record of your resignation. Be sure to include the date of your last day of work, a reason for leaving and a gracious “thank you” to your employer for the opportunity. Keep your resignation letter simple and respectful to avoid drama.
Respect your manager.
Break the news to your manager first to show her your respect. It’s even better to assist her as she prepares for the transition — helping find/train a replacement, not leaving projects unfinished and keeping open communication. Being helpful as you depart leaves a good impression on your past employer.
Continue to work hard until the end
Just because you’ve resigned doesn’t mean you should drop everything and skate through your last days. Show some self-respect by continuing to perform your job to your best ability. You are still being paid for your time, so make sure you are earning that pay fairly. Finish your last days with grace.
Coming to terms with the idea that your job may be killing you is not pleasant. Even less pleasant is actually quitting that job. You’re sure to be filled with questions and uncertainty. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
What do you say when you quit a job?
First of all, make sure to thank your employer for the job opportunity. This sets a positive tone for the rest of the discussion. Then, frame your reasons for leaving in a positive way. Never offer negative reasons for quitting. Keep your resignation simple and to-the-point. You may be nervous about the response you’ll receive, but remember, all you need to do is get through the conversation in a respectful manner.
How do you survive a miserable job?
Maybe you’re still waiting to land a new job and the days are moving slowly at your miserable one. It can be hard to wake up each day and keep going. Remind yourself often that you’re working on a change and this situation won’t last forever. Focus more on your personal life when you’re not at work. Find just one thing to look forward to each day. Do whatever it takes to get you through these last days.
Can stress from work make you sick?
A stressful job can definitely affect your health negatively. People can only undergo a certain amount of stress before their bodies begin to suffer. Stress can cause headaches, insomnia and even paralysis when severe enough. It can also trigger symptoms of underlying mental illness. Overloads of stress can go as far as causing conditions like hypertension and stroke.
Is it okay to quit a job?
Of course it’s okay to quit! Not all employers and employees are good matches. Don’t spend your life being miserable because you feel obligated to stick with a dead-end job. Yes, your employer may be disappointed when you go, but that’s their problem, not yours. Just be sure you are quitting for the right reasons, not because of a personal vendetta. Also, make sure you’ve given a new job enough time to make an accurate assessment — it can take two or three months before you feel comfortable at a new job.
Balance your life
If your job is causing undue work stress in your life, take a moment to reassess the situation. It’s easy to have an overachiever mentality — until it makes you sick or shatters your personal life. Take some time to assess your life — your work responsibilities, your level of quality personal time and your health. If you want to be happy, it’s important to keep these areas of life well-balanced.