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Workplace stress and how it influences health

Today's San Jose Mercury News included an interesting Q&A with Mark Cullen, MD, professor of medicine at Stanford, about how job stress can affect your health. In the interview, Cullen discussed the contributing factors to occupational stress, how it can impact a person physically and how stress in the workplace has changed over the past few decades.

On the topic of reducing job-related stress, he said:

There are two totally different components - individual and societal. I think the unrest in our society is not just due to unemployment, but also to the vast insecurity about work and its future. As terrible as the Great Recession was, in which 8 to 10 million people lost their jobs, 200,000 million people got nervous, real nervous. So the biggest question is, how do we return to some civil society in which people have security that there will be work, and they can be productive?

But, individually, the biggest step most people can take is to become their own advocates. To do their own job analysis and to think about what parts of their job -- the demands, the control over their job and the rewards -- are amenable to change. For example, people who have trouble sleeping should give some thought to ways in which they can protect their sleep, even if they can't change some aspects of their work. Or you can decide that after 8 p.m. at night, your computer is staying off and people in your environment will learn that if they need you in an emergency, there's always the telephone. Many of us can exercise more control and leverage over our work than we realize. If people dissect these components of their job, many people can actually make the current situation much more compatible with day-to-day good health.

The full Q&A is worth a read.

Previously: The health benefits of compassion and tips for dealing with unpleasant people, interactions, How work stress affects wellness, health-care costs, Robert Sapolsky discusses stress physiology, Can stress increase risk of neurodegenerative diseases?, No surprise here: Anger and stress are bad for your health, Robert Sapolsky on stress and your health and New year, new (less stressed) you
Photo by Mike Hoff

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