Does Job Related Stress Impact Your Health?

Does Work Stress Impact Your Health?

Most People have a vision of their “dream” job that reflects their gifts and unique talents.  Is Yours?  If your job is not meeting those requirements, it could be a factor for job related stress.  You might want to take some time to examine this concept.

We spend much of our time performing our jobs.  So, if your job and work relationships create dissatisfaction it is affecting your health more than you realize.  Research suggests that is your work is creating a stressful environment for you, your health may suffer.

Does Work Stress Impact Your Health
Does Work Stress Impact Your Health

If your job is bringing you stress, that you might want to figure out why.  Is it the people?  Is it a co-worker’s lack of competence affecting you?  Is there too little freedom at your job?  Is your workplace disorganized?

Your Job Can Be Hazardous to Your Waistline

Increased stress and anxiety can lead to chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammation, and diabetes. In addition to an increasing of risk for various health issues, research suggests that your job may also affect your weight.

For example, a study published in 2010 showed chronic stress on the job may be linked to a higher Body Mass Index.  In addition, women who work more than 49 hours per week reported the greatest weight gain.

In Addition to Your Job are There Other Factors

While it might be nice to blame your boss for the numbers on your scale, it is likely that stress is the enemy.  If you experience long hours, strained relationships and a hard to please boss.  Or if it is long hours and other pressures at work, if can affect in numerous ways.

First, many of us are prone to gravitate to emotional eating.  While this may cause weight gain, we may also experience stress-induced hormonal changes.  For instance, here is another study of women found that increased stress was linked to lower metabolism and less fat burning.

Finally, if you are working long hours you will have less time to spend on self-care and weight management.  While, we have discussed all the negative impacts of stress and your job we should also look at some ways to get stress in control.  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Do What You Can to Manage Your Stressors

Start thinking of the long term.  Sometimes we must temporarily take on even more stress before we can reduce our stress.  If you feel you don’t have many options, you probably need to re-evaluate your situation.

While you may not be able to manage all of your work stress conditions, you can empower yourself by managing the ones you do have control over.  Work with your boss to find ways to improve your productivity.  Learn some constructive ways to deal with your co-workers.  By decreasing stressors at work you’ll be taking a stand to improve your health.

  1. Do More for Your Self Care

Taking time for yourself is not all about luxury, it’s a necessity for maintaining your health and sanity.  Even if you love your job, the truth is you are not as productive or effective if you are anxious and tired.  So, develop new habits to get enough sleep and exercise in a few times a week.

  1. Meal Prep

If you don’t want to get caught in the excuse of deciding what to eat when your defenses are down, make an effort to do some meal planning.  And while you are at it, stock your desk with healthy alternative snacks, so you are not heading for the vending machine with the mood strikes.  The easier you make it for yourself to develop healthier behaviors, the greater the odds will be of engaging in habits for long term health benefits.


Shirley Noah

Watch for my new book-Understanding the Stress Connection: Break the Power of Chronic Stress with Healthy Eating and Healthy Habits


Is Stress Making You Eat More?

Why Do You Eat?

We all deal with stress.  And we each have our own way of dealing with it.  A very common way to deal with stress, especially chronic stress, is eating.  When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol, a stress hormone.   In addition, another hormone that is released is ghrelin  a hunger hormone.

Ghrelin stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, this tells the body that it wants to eat.  Cortisol is what triggers our food cravings such as salty, sweet, and fried.  In other words, when you are feeling stressed, you have an intense desire for foods that give you pleasure and a burst of energy.

However, how do you know when you are eating because you are hungry and when you are driven by stress?

Stress Eating
Stress Eating

What is Stress Eating and Physical Hunger?

There are a few differences between eating when you are stressed out and eating because your body physically needs food.  However, when you are stressed it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference.  Here are some of the main differences between and stress eating and when you physically need to eat.

  • When you are hungry because of stress, it comes on suddenly and feels overwhelming. Physical hunger comes on more gradual and doesn’t demand to be instantly satisfied. When you are physically hungry, all food sounds good.  You just want to eat.  However, when your hunger is due to stress you will crave specific foods, such as pizza or chocolate.
  • When you are eating due to stress, you are typically eating mindlessly without really thinking about how much you are eating. (Like when you eat the whole bag of chips).  However, when you eat for physical needs, you tend to be more aware of how much you are eating and when you are full.
  • Physical hunger is satisfied when you are full. If you are stress eating, your mind will still want more food even when your stomach is full. This is because stress hunger does not come from the stomach.  You may not be experiencing any more hunger pangs, but you are fixated on the texture, smell or taste of specific foods.
  • When you are eating to deal with stress, you often have feelings of guilt after you eat. This can because you ate the whole bag of chips or the whole pint of ice cream, and you know that is not good for you.

How Can You Stop Stress Eating?

Knowing that you are stress eating is the first step to being able to overcome the habit, because you acknowledge that your eating is an issue.  The real cause is that you need to deal with your stress, before you can overcome this habit.  Mindfulness training would be a great place to start.  A study published by the Journal of Obesity found that women who engaged in mindfulness training were less likely to stress eat.  This training involves stress reduction techniques and how to effectively recognize hunger.  In addition, it is being more of aware of the taste of the foods they were eating.

Eating to make yourself feel better is not always a bad thing.  Recognizing the reason, you are snacking and doing so in moderation is alright.  You can do this by focusing on the taste and texture of the foods.  One brownie or one small bowl of ice cream can be enjoyed without feeling guilty.  Eating for joy is healthy if you are reaching for those snacks and can do so in moderation.

For further information check out :The Stress-Proof Brain offers powerful, comprehensive tools based in mindfulness, neuroscience, and positive psychology to help you put a stop to unhealthy responses to stress—such as avoidance.


Shirley Noah

Watch for my new book-Understanding the Stress Connection: Break the Power of Chronic Stress with Healthy Eating and Healthy Habits