Is Your Job Undermining Your Health? Interesting Facts About Occupational Stress

Benadatte Kaggwa | 19th August 2020

Is Your Job Undermining Your Health? Interesting Facts About Occupational Stress

Is Your Job Undermining Your Health? Interesting Facts About Occupational Stress

Benadatte Kaggwa | 19th August 2020


On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful is your job?

Having a high-pressure job can leave you feeling stressed out. Being tasked with many responsibilities and working overtime can lead to occupational stress.


But there's another side to occupational stress you're probably not aware of; some interesting facts about work-related stress.


Understanding these facts will help you determine if your job is undermining your health. Thereafter, you can develop appropriate coping strategies.





According to the World Health Organization (WHO), occupational stress is the internal response you have when work demands and pressures don't align with your knowledge and abilities.


This psychological, emotional, and sometimes physiological response is your body's way of adapting to a mismatched work environment.


When you lack adequate resources, personal abilities, and necessary support to perform your tasks, you develop occupational stress.


Interestingly, a mismatch in personal abilities and job descriptions can also exist in low-pressure jobs. An unfulfilling career lacking stimulation leads to stressful feelings.





Job pressure is unavoidable, even necessary sometimes. You'll experience some pressure when working to beat deadlines or taking on challenging tasks. Striving to meet your sales targets can be exhilarating and motivating.


However, there's a fine line between pressure and stress. Unhealthy stress arises when mounting pressures overtake your ability to manage a process and to control the outcome.


  • Cardiovascular Symptoms: Our bodies have a subconscious 'fight or flight' response to situations we perceive as out of our control. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and mental clarity reduces.


  • Frequent Absenteeism: On the flip side, if a job demands less of your resources (time and energy) than you have available, boredom results. You lack the motivation to report to work and frequently look for reasons to be absent.


A psychological disorder called ‘Boredom Boreout Syndrome’ results from workplace mental underload. 


  • Depression: Diminished feelings of self-worth have been linked to workplace dissatisfaction. In one worldwide survey of 50,000 workers, the Corporate Leadership Council reported how 13% felt underutilized and dissatisfied with their jobs.


An inability to make a significant contribution to work processes may result in low self-esteem and depression.


  • Frequent Headaches, Fatigue, and Insomnia: Work-related stress can manifest as unexplained tiredness or tension headaches. A high-pressure job puts your body's internal mechanisms on alert. Your energy to cope wears off with time, resulting in fatigue and insomnia.


  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Long-term stress at work affects your gut. Adrenaline and cortisol produced during the 'fight or flight' response can cause stomach upset, gastritis, even ulcers.


  • Irritability and Short Temper: Dealing with excessive pressures at work puts you on edge. A minor difference of opinion with coworkers could trigger an outburst when your nerves are shot.


  • Domestic Problems: Satisfying work contributes to healthy self-esteem. Job dissatisfaction can manifest in family dysfunction. You may seek to assert your authority more aggressively at home if you feel undermined at the workplace. A woman in a high-pressure leadership position could experience challenges being submissive to her spouse.


  • Substance Abuse: After a stressful day at the office, your local bar is the next stop. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day seems normal. The use of recreational drugs becomes a welcome thought.





Usually, occupational stress develops when you have great responsibilities and face excessive demands to perform.


Did you know, a job that limits your creativity, intelligence, and decision-making ability can likewise be stressful?


A healthy work environment is where you feel equal to your responsibilities. Your personal abilities and professional knowledge are proportionate to the demands of your job.


Whenever your academic qualifications and professional skills aren't being fully utilized, you're bound to develop occupational stress. Constant job frustration triggers stress-related physical symptoms, thereby undermining your health.


A person with strong leadership and managerial skills will inevitably experience frustration in a workplace lacking autonomy. If you have a talent or training in visual arts, for instance, working a routine clerical job restricts your creativity.


In such scenarios, your work-related stress is due to a mismatch between your job description and personal abilities, or professional qualifications.


Job scarcity and rising unemployment may force you to accept work that's not aligned to your abilities and knowledge. You're promised an opportunity to "learn on the job." It's not uncommon nowadays to pursue a degree in one field, yet land a job in another unrelated industry.



Other factors which contribute to occupational stress are:


  • Poor Corporate Culture: Inconsiderate leadership, unsupportive colleagues, and prejudice or corporate bullying


  • Inadequate Employee Compensation: Insufficient pay for qualifications, unfair performance reviews, and limited employee benefits


  • Lack of Career Development Opportunities: Being passed up for promotions, lack of training seminars, and no business growth or expansion


  • Job Insecurity: Possibility of layoffs, working overtime due to staff cutbacks, and salary reductions as a cost-cutting measure  





It goes without saying; your health is the priority. Once you determine how your stressful job could be undermining your health, it's time for action.


Medical studies by Mayo Clinic prove the effects of stress in causing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.


Seek to remedy the situation before long-term stress develops into a lifestyle disease.


1. Get Regular Health Checkups


It's difficult to realize just how stressed you are without monitoring your health. Most doctors recommend getting a medical checkup every six months. A complete physical examination will identify any early signs of a stress-related illness.


2. Regulate Stressors At Work


Identify what factors are causing you to feel stressed out at work. Manage your resources of time and energy when handling a high-pressure job. Delegate tasks if necessary. Reduce your managerial workload by getting an assistant. Leave your work at the office, or go on a vacation.


Find ways to mitigate the boredom and frustration of an unfulfilling job. Request for more responsibilities, and ask to handle tasks that align with your abilities. Create an outlet for your time and energy by learning a new skill. Take up a challenging hobby outside of your work.


3. Watch Your Diet and Nutrition


Resist the urge to skip breakfast or lunch just because of demanding tasks. When it's time for lunch, eat healthfully. Boost your energy with a power breakfast consisting of high-fiber foods and lean protein.


Stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink at least 2 litres of water daily, and avoid carbonated beverages or energy drinks. Limit your caffeine intake. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.


4. Maintain an Active Lifestyle


Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, massage therapy, and aromatherapy. Establish a regular exercise routine; 30 minutes daily of brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming, gardening, or dancing.


Get 8 hours of sleep daily. If you suffer from insomnia, regulate your sleeping habits. Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. Avoid any mentally stimulating material before bedtime.


Nurture your emotional support system by spending time with family and friends. If you're a spiritual person, regularly connect with your Maker through fellowship and prayer.





The pressures of the modern workplace make it impossible to avoid stress altogether. Most of us will experience some occupational stress at one time in our careers.


Remember, it's not just high-pressure jobs that lead to stress-related symptoms such as cardiovascular irregularities, fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems. A work environment where your skills and abilities aren't fully utilized can be stressful too.


By remaining alert and informed, you'll recognize the signs whenever a job starts undermining your health. If changing jobs is impossible, develop the necessary coping strategies.


Monitor your health every six months; delegate tasks to reduce your workload, or get more involved if you feel underutilized; include high-fibers and lean protein in your breakfast and never skip lunch; exercise for 30 minutes daily and sleep for 8 hours every day; learn to relax through massage and deep breathing; spend time with family and friends away from work, if possible remain prayerful.


Lastly, remember to take leave and go on holiday regularly!

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