Long-term work stress and anxiety can have serious negative effects on both physical and mental health. Here are 5 dangers associated with long-term work stress and anxiety:
Increased risk of heart disease: Prolonged stress can lead to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.
Mental health problems: Chronic stress can also lead to anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health problems. This can lead to difficulties at work and in personal relationships, and may require professional treatment.
Sleep disturbances: Long-term work stress and anxiety can lead to disrupted sleep, which in turn can lead to a range of health problems, including fatigue, weakened immune system, and even increased risk of accidents.
Impaired cognitive function: Chronic stress can also impair cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. This can impact work performance and ability to cope with stressors.
Physical health problems: In addition to heart disease, long-term work stress and anxiety can also lead to a range of physical health problems, including headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain. These can also impact work performance and quality of life.
In other words, chronic stress can wreck your life. Our mental and physical systems were never developed to cope with continuously high levels of stress hormones. In nature, danger is perceived, there is a quick response to run away, attack or defend. Once the situation is over, hormone levels return to normal and life resumes.
This doesn't happen in modern life. The 'threats' are less likely to be physical and they are relentless. Work brings responsibilities, deadlines, targets, performance evaluations, interacting with people you wouldn't normally, remaining professional, keeping emotions in check, obeying rules, remembering a lot of information and staying up to date etc. These issues are continual and cannot be resolved by the fight or flight mechanism.
We humans simply haven't evolved quickly enough to cope sufficiently with the changes.
Heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure are well known side effects of stress. What is less obvious is the long term damage to other areas. Damage that isn't always reversible. Like digestive tract ulcers developing into cancer. Triggering of autoimmune or hormone sensitive conditions.
The body doesn't get enough rest to regenerate cells, heal, and process the brain data of the day.
All our systems are connected so dis-ease in one affects the other.
Using alcohol, cigarettes, vapes, drugs or medications - ALL have side-effects and/or cause cell damage.
Lives can be negatively affected. It is no secret that the biggest cause of relationship breakdown is stress. Partners split. Homes are broken. Children lose stability.
Sometimes a PTSD type panic reaction can persist for years, which usually means no returning to the job or position to function as well as previously. Resulting in reduced financial earning potential.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms - especially sleep disturbances, tight jaw, headaches and feelings of dread - please seek help as soon as you can. They are warning signs, take them seriously. Leaving it can result in a tip over into long term anxiety symptoms that may take years to recover from.
To avoid the development of long-term symptoms you need to acknowledge the problem and then take action.
What can you do? Take an objective look at the situation.
Are you working longer hours more often?
Is your workload manageable? (if you can't complete tasks in normal office hours then you probably need to delegate or streamline processes)
Are you eating healthily and drinking enough liquids?
Do you take regular breaks from VDU's, high concentration tasks or taxing physical work?
Are you winding down before bed so your body naturally relaxes into sleep or are you listening/watching/playing electronic devices?
Are you sharing your pressures with a trusted person who will allow you to vent? (possibly not connected to work)
What underlying thought processes could be contributing? e.g. being a control freak, demanding perfection, avoiding confrontation, not feeling confident enough to ask for things or say no, feeling a fraud (not competent or experienced enough), trying too hard to impress, being hard on yourself, thinking you are invincible ...
Getting perspective is important. When you are in the situation it can be difficult to know what needs to change. And change is vital to reduce the stress.
What changes do you need to make?
This website/blog/article is provided for information only and is not intended to replace a consultation with your GP or other health care professional. The information on this website should not be considered as medical advice. If you have any doubts or concerns about your health, you should seek advice from a medical doctor. Results vary and depend on your participation and homework completion.