New research hot off the press from the British Medical Journal shows us how the link between stress and heart disease may work. Researchers examined the link between levels of work stress and metabolic syndrome in 10,308 British workers aged between 35 and 55, over a 14 year period.
Stress was measured on four occasions between 1985 and 1999. Components of what’s known as the “metabolic syndrome” were measured. These include obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Social position, income levels and health damaging behaviours, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise, were also recorded.
The bottom line?
A direct relationship between exposure to job stress and the metabolic syndrome, even after adjusting for other risk factors was found. Men with chronic work stress were twice as likely to develop the syndrome and other diseases as those with no exposure!
Correlation between metabolic syndrome and a person’s exposure to health damaging behaviours was also strong. Poor diet (particularly no fruit and vegetables), smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity were all associated with higher odds.
The implications for you and I are clear. We must actively manage our work stress levels and minimise health damaging behaviours to live better for longer.
Want more articles like this? Check out the stress-management section.
Try my ‘stress test’ to rate how susceptible you are to work stress related illness. Simply rate each statement below then add up your scores.
1 – Never 2 – Rarely 3 – Sometimes 4 – Often 5 – Always
|I have little control or influence over my work|
|My work interferes with my family / personal life.|
|I have too much work to do and / or unreasonable deadlines.|
|I think there is one right way to do things.|
|I don’t receive the recognition I deserve when I do a good job.|
|I am easily irritated and / or upset.|
|I have difficulty exercising.|
|I keep things inside and don’t want to burden others with my problems.|
|I have difficulty making decisions.|
|I tend to neglect my diet (eat irregularly, eat unhealthy foods, etc.).|
|I try to do everything myself.|
|I rush through the day and have no time left to relax.|
|I tend to make a ‘big deal’ about everything.|
|I spend a lot of time complaining about the past.|
|I have trouble sleeping and/or sleep too much.|
|I suffer from headaches and migraines.|
|I feel tired / fatigued for no real reason.|
|I feel as if I don’t want to get up in the morning.|
|Your score is:|
Low. You have a few things stressing you out in your life but, you seem to be managing them quite well.
Fairly Low. You are likely to be experiencing some negative effects of stress. Depending on the challenges in front of you, you need to learn ways to deal effectively with the stress in your life.
Moderate. You may be suffering from chronic stress. It would be good to learn ways to deal more effectively with change and minimise adverse effects of stress.
High. You are probably suffering from some of the effects of stress and should seek out resources and assistance to help you. You may be experiencing headaches, problems with sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety, difficulty balancing work and home, and indecision.
Stressed to the gills or mellow as a cello? Tell us below – Ed