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How to spot the signs when your job harms your health

How to spot the signs when your job harms your health

In today's fast-paced, competitive world, work can take a toll on your health. From long hours at a desk to high-stress environments, your job can impact your physical and mental well-being. But how do you know when your job is harmful? It's not always easy to spot the signs, and you can be so caught up in your work that you don't even realize the damage it's causing. In this article, you'll learn about the subtle and not-so-subtle signs that your job may be negatively affecting your health and get some tips on how to act before it's too late.

What are the side effects of overworking?

Working too much can have negative consequences on both your physical and mental health, such as:

Increased risk of illness or injuries

Working long hours or a physically demanding job can increase the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and chronic pain. It can affect your sleep, which can exacerbate existing physical health issues. Working too much can also lead to fatigue, which can increase the risk of workplace accidents and injuries. To avoid overworking, learn to delegate, prioritize tasks, and set specific work hours as much as possible. 

Decreased productivity

Working too much can decrease your productivity and work quality. Research suggests that working long hours can lead to a decrease in cognitive function and decision-making abilities. Overworking can also lead to burnout, a state of exhaustion that can make it difficult to stay motivated and engaged in your work. To avoid becoming fatigued and unable to focus, set realistic goals by breaking larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones and create a work schedule you can stick to.

"Burnout can leave you feeling drained, unmotivated, and disengaged from your work and personal life."

Weight gain

Your work environment can have a significant impact on your eating habits and overall health. When you're constantly stressed and overwhelmed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can lead to cravings for high-calorie foods and leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Whether you're working from home or the office, aim for the recommended 10,000 steps per day and take regular breaks to stretch and move your body.

Premature aging

Studies have shown that those who feel overworked or always on-call at their jobs may experience health problems typically associated with premature aging. Sitting for extended periods can increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, while standing for too long can lead to back pain, fatigue, and leg cramps, all of which accelerate the aging process. 

So, what's the solution? It's simple—move around and change positions regularly, regardless of how you typically work. Take a walk and get your blood flowing. By incorporating movement and regular position changes into your workday, you can improve your health and reduce the risk of premature aging and chronic health issues.

Mental health problems

Overworking can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also cause burnout that can leave you feeling drained, unmotivated, and disengaged from your work and personal life. Studies show that working 55-plus hours per week can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety

The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your mental health and prevent burnout at work. Set boundaries and make time for self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones. Prioritizing your mental health and well-being is essential for achieving long-term success and happiness in your personal and professional life.


Working too much can make pre-existing conditions like asthma worse. High levels of stress can increase the likelihood of asthma attacks as stress is a known trigger for many asthma sufferers. Exposure to certain environmental factors in the workplace, such as dust, chemicals, and other airborne irritants, can also worsen asthma symptoms or trigger asthma attacks.

If you suffer from asthma, work with your employer to reduce your exposure to potential triggers, take breaks to rest and recharge throughout the day, and practice stress-management techniques like deep breathing and meditation. It's also important to prioritize your overall health by getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying active.

Symptoms of work stress

Work stress can manifest in many ways, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of work stress include: 

  • Physical symptoms: headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems, and fatigue, especially when your job is too physically demanding 
  • Emotional symptoms:  irritability, anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed 
  • Cognitive symptoms: difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and poor decision-making
  • Behavioral symptoms: changes in appetite, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and difficulty sleeping 
  • Interpersonal symptoms: increased conflict with co-workers or family members, social withdrawal, and isolation 

It's important to note that everyone experiences stress differently, and some may not exhibit any symptoms at all. However, if you're experiencing any symptoms affecting your daily life, it may be time to get help to manage your work stress or consider changing your job. Seek support from a mental health professional or loved ones and make time for self-care and activities that bring you joy. Remember, no job is worth your health. Considering a career change for something less stressful? Upload your resume to CareerBuilder and let new opportunities find you. 

More tips for managing work stress

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