It's no secret that the stress we feel on the job is not a good thing for us. Studies have shown that job stress can lead to a variety of problems, including lack of concentration, frequent colds, nervous habits, nausea, poor judgment, unexplained aches and pains, and much more.
New research at Stanford and Harvard, however, has found that the stress we feel at work is literally cutting weeks, months, and years off our lives-up to three years for certain groups of people. In other words, those people most impacted by job stress can expect to die on average almost three years earlier than if they weren't exposed to the stress.
The researchers considered the impact of a number of specific job stressors, including:
- Unemployment and layoffs
- The absence of health insurance
- Shift work
- Long working hours
- Job insecurity
- Work-family conflict
They also considered race, gender, and educational attainment to see how these attributes in combination with job stress affected longevity. Here are some of the findings:
- People with less education tend to work in jobs with unhealthy workplace practices-these practices directly reduce workers' lifespans.
- Blacks and Latinos lost more years of life than did Caucasians, regardless of gender.
- Women generally lived longer than men who worked in stressful jobs with one exception: Latina women. They lost significantly more lifespan than did Latino men.
And which job stressors caused the greatest impact on life expectancy? According to the researchers, the absence of health insurance and unemployment and layoffs were the most stressful, and they shaved the most years off the lives of all groups.
If you find yourself in a stressful job, then take immediate steps to either reduce the stress you feel, or consider finding a less-stressful job. We only have one shot at this life, and potentially losing several years of it due to job stress is something we all have the power to avoid.