We know about the dangers lurking in our surroundings that pose a threat to our immune system: doorknobs touched by sneezing co-workers, stale air in airplanes and a visit to the hospital where diseases are bountiful. But one of the gravest culprits to our overall vitality is something less talked about: our jobs.
Considering we spend more time in the office and with our colleagues than we do with our families and spouses, it makes sense that being unhappy with our 9 to 5 can do damage to our daily function and mindset.
As career expert and podcast host Gwen Wunderlich explains, whether you’re stressed, overworked, or miserable in general, it doesn’t matter. It all festers inside and literally makes you physically sick. Work-related problems can affect our physical, emotional and mental health.
In our lifetime, we will spend an estimated 90,000 hours working. While you pick your jaw up off the ground, Wunderlich reminds us we do have a choice on how we spend them: satisfied or anxious. Engaged or enraged. And more importantly: sick and tired, or energetic and creative. If you’re feeling drained lately and you can’t pinpoint why, here are some key indicators your job is to blame:
You aren’t sleeping well.
A few nights wrestling for shut eye is normal for anyone, and can be due to hormonal fluctuations or a temporary stressful season. But if you’re consistently struggling to fall and stay asleep, or tossing and turning thinking about what you have to do tomorrow at work, Wunderlich says your employment may be to blame. More than 164 million Americans report some sort of sleep ailment, which is a dangerous stat when you consider how important rest is to our cognitive ability. Wunderlich recommends addressing your anxieties about work, and perhaps seeking a greener pasture if you can’t improve your situation.
You’re gaining weight.
When you’re feeling overworked, nervous or upset, your chance of reaching for something overly sweet or salty grows exponentially. In fact, around 40 percent of people report being ‘emotional eaters’ — and an office environment that drives you toward cravings isn’t a healthy one. Wunderlich says this can be a cause of an ill-inducing gig, and also a byproduct of little sleep. While it’s tempting if everyone around you is taking a 3 p.m. frappuccino break, improving your diet may help to lower your weight gain. That, and brushing up your resume.
You’re getting colds more often.
“Stress weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to the viruses that cross your path,” Wunderlich explains. “If you’re getting multiple colds every year and you seem unable to fight them off, it can be a definite indicator that your job is too taxing and affecting your body’s ability to fight off illness.”
One way to combat this is to increase your workouts — whether it’s hot yoga or another uplifting exercise, according to Wunderlich. You can also try to have a conversation with your manager to address these issues and brainstorm ways to lower your workload. If they aren’t receptive to your desire to prioritize your health, you’re better off making a plan to move.
You are becoming less social.
When we are feeling like our most authentic selves, we want to share our spirit with those we love the most. Enriched professionals will make an effort to see their friends, detox with their partner or visit family members.
On the other hand, Wunderlich explains those who are in a toxic working environment will withdraw from social situations. “After a long hard day at work it’s all you can do to put on your pajamas and order sodium filled take out. You start sleeping more because stress is exhausting you. You skip the gym because you have no energy. We have all been there,” she continues. But if this is you all the time? It’s a sure-fire indicator you’re in a bad situation at the office.
The solution here is to reframe how you approach your job, or search for one that allows for a better work and life balance. “You’ll need to mindset shift to get over this withdrawal period and force yourself to rise up,” Wunderlich advises. “It’s important to remember you are not your job a job is just part of your life.”