No matter our interests and passions, we all hope to have a career that energizes and interests us. We want to get up each (or at least most) mornings feeling inspired, motivated, and happy to do our work and to deal with those we interact with during the day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many of us, and we dread each work day and live for our days off and vacations.
While no job is perfect, and even the career best suited to us will give us plenty of challenges to overcome, some problems become too extreme. Bad situations in our work lives can lead us to not just feeling stressed and unhappy but quite ill, too, and impact our lives in many negative ways.
Read on for some of the most common signs that your job or workplace may be making you sick and some ideas about what you can do about it.
Mental Health Issues Arising
For most of us, one of the first things we notice is that our mental health has declined. You might notice that you can’t stop thinking about work, even on weekends, at nights, or during vacations when you’d much rather be relaxing or present with your loved ones.
You might also notice that you can’t shake the feeling of being stressed all the time or that you have a feeling of dread that doesn’t seem to go away. Some people might develop mental health conditions that are due to or partly related to their job, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or other mental health challenges. You might also realize that problems you’ve had in these areas are coming back after you thought you had dealt with them in the past.
Our stomachs often end up alerting us to the fact that our job is making us sick. For many, this part of the body is the most vulnerable, so high stress and levels of conflict or work boredom, etc., can lead to gastrointestinal upsets like constipation, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and indigestion. Alternatively, you might notice that you’re eating much more than usual or have lost your appetite much of the time.
Stress affects gut health and can cause various digestion problems and a loss of good gut bacteria, and the growth of bad ones. The more work stress you feel, the more you may notice gastrointestinal problems rearing their ugly heads. Many people with chronic gastrointestinal problems cannot find relief because they have an undiagnosed thyroid condition. That’s why taking a thyroid test is important if you feel early symptoms.
Regular headaches are often a problem for those who find their career path an issue. You might have significantly more headaches than you ever have or did in recent months before you started having issues with your work. This often stems from the fact that our muscles tense up when we consciously or unconsciously feel we’re in a danger zone and need to guard ourselves against injury.
If you’re worried about your work or otherwise upset by it, your muscles will likely become tight and sore much of the time. In turn, you can get chronic head, back, neck, or shoulder pain that causes migraines and other headaches. In addition, signs of your work making you sick include insomnia, nightmares, and other sleep problems, general lethargy and fatigue, more illness throughout the year than usual, and unpredictable moods.
Tips for Addressing the Fact that Your Job is Making You Ill
Happily, you can do plenty of things to combat these issues. If your job makes you ill, it’s time to stop and think if you need a career change. For instance, you might be bored with your work or realize it doesn’t suit your personality type. If so, do some thinking and research to devise a list of possible alternative career paths, whether you are interested in becoming a writer or lawyer, studying to be a pharmacy technician or chiropractor, or starting your own business, among many other fields.
It’s also worth talking to your doctor about how you’re feeling. You might be able to get a note from them to get some time off work to recharge your batteries, or they might give you a referral to a mental health professional you can chat with, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
It’s also important to take decent breaks during your workday, especially for lunch, and to finish at a reasonable hour and ensure you’re taking days off every week and vacations throughout the year to combat burnout. Also, talk to your supervisor about what’s going on and how it’s affecting you, and see if they can help you minimize issues.
If you’ve overworked, managers can help take tasks off your plate, or if you’re having struggles with coworkers, they can set up some training or counseling to help everyone get along better. Your manager might also suggest investing in some training so you can move into a better, more challenging, or otherwise rewarding role within the company.
Don’t just try to cope with your situation. Instead, be proactive and make changes to avoid harming your mind and body.