We all have a fear that our 9-to-5 working life has the ability to take a toll on our well-being--perhaps a devastating one. Whether it's mental, physical, or emotional, working a job that we're not in love with is something that can only have negative consequences on our bodies and minds.
What many people don't know, however, is that job satisfaction--starting as early as your late 20s and early 30s--actually has an incredibly important impact on your life, and overall health, in your later years. Although those less happy with their work expressed clear effects their job had on their mental health, the direction of job satisfaction--whether it was getting better or getting worse--had a compelling effect on physical health as well.
Luckily, a recent study shows that those who began with negative feelings towards their job, but who ultimately ended up pretty satisfied as their careers progressed, did not have the same health problems as those with overall declining job satisfaction. Jonathan Dirlam, PhD Sociology student at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, shared that early jobs were the most important for determining health as early as one's 40s.
Ultimately, researchers determined that, of four groups reporting different levels of job satisfaction throughout their careers, those in the "low-satisfaction group" reported the worst scores on all five mental health measures. They demonstrated elevated levels of depression, increased sleep problems, and greater worry and anxiety.
Some negative physical health effects were also apparent, according to the report. People who reported into the lower-satisfaction group saw things like increased lower back pain and more frequent colds than those in the higher satisfaction group. In the big picture, overall physical health did not differ very much between groups, especially in doctor-diagnosed long-term health problems like cancer or diabetes.
Hui Zheng, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University, warns that the study only studies participants in their early 40s. "The higher levels of mental health problems for those with low job satisfaction may be a precursor to future physical problems," Zheng said. However, he warns that "Increased anxiety and depression could lead to cardiovascular or other health problems that won't show up until they are older."