You can’t sleep ― A few restless nights is not a big deal, but if it becomes a pattern (particularly about things related to work), that may be a sign your job stress has become toxic.
You get headaches ― Muscles tense to guard a body from injury. When you see your workplace as a danger zone, it keeps your muscles wound tight. Chronic tension in the neck, shoulders and head can be associated with migraines and tension headaches.
Your muscles in general ache ― When your job is toxic, it can put your nervous system constantly on edge. Under a perceived threat, your brain floods your system with adrenaline and other stress hormones. If you are always typing with your shoulders hunched and your jaw clenched, this could be a sign that your job is impacting your health.
Your mental health gets worse ― Increased stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues. If you feel like your boss is always out to get you, your mental health pays a price. Unfair treatment at work can cause us great stress.
You get sick more often ― If you are catching colds constantly, consider how you are feeling about your job. A large body of research shows that chronic stress can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
You lose interest in sex ― How you spend your time reflects what you value. When you bring your work home with you, your relationships can suffer. The American Psychological Association notes that when women have to juggle professional stress on top of their ongoing personal and financial obligations, it can reduce sexual desire. For men, this chronic stress can result in lower testosterone production, which in turn leads to lower libido.
You are tired all the time ― This is real fatigue, a deep weariness that no nap or weekend sleep-in seems to cure. Toxic jobs can create a vicious cycle: you’re feeling overwhelmed, because you’re working too long, and you’re working too long because you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Your stomach is acting up ― Indigestion, constipation and/or bloating can all be associated with stress, because stress impacts what the stomach digests and can also change our bacteria, which in turn impacts our mood.
Your appetite changes ― Your appetite is closely linked to your brain. According to the Harvard Health Letter, under acute stress, your fight-or-flight response releases adrenaline, telling your body to suppress digestion to focus on saving us from a perceived danger. However, under long-term stress your body’s adrenal glands release and build up cortisol, a hormone which can increase hunger. When your job is causing long-term emotional distress, you may turn to food for comfort. Harvard also reports that eating sugary foods may blunt stress-related responses and emotions, which is why they’re often seen as comfort foods ― but that’s an unhealthy habit you should avoid.
What you can do to combat this (without leaving your job) ― Take breaks! After your body goes on high alert to defend you from unreasonable demands and bad bosses, you need to give it time off. Outside of the workplace, lean on companionship, exercise, and other pleasures to offset stress symptoms. Also, reframe your negative thinking. How you think can impact how you feel. Try to look more at the positives than the negatives.
If your work environment is simply too detrimental to your health, find a new job. Sometimes you just need to fix the underlying problem and not deal with the symptoms.
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