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toxic work

Did you know two of the most common New Year’s Resolutions have a unique relationship with one another?

I’m talking about 1) Finding a new job because you hate your current one, and 2) Getting in better physical shape.

Here’s the connection: A toxic job situation has a direct negative influence on your physical health. On the flip side,  physical health symptoms can also be a sign that you’re in a job that you hate (if you didn’t already know!).

This Huffington Post article provides more data and clarity on this subject, stating: Your body may know before you fully do that your job is to blame for your stress symptoms, sending you red alerts that you are not okay.

So what are these “red alerts” that your job has gotten toxic to the point that it’s hurting your health? I encourage you to read the whole article, but here’s a quick preview, featuring some of the article’s quotes.

You can’t sleep. Monique Reynolds of the Center for Anxiety and Behavior Change states, “People report either not being able to sleep because their mind is racing or not being able to stay asleep. They wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their to-do list.”

You get headaches. When you see the workplace as a danger zone, it keeps your muscles wound tight, according to the American Psychological Association. Chronic tension in the neck, shoulders and head can be associated with migraines and tension headaches.

Your muscles in general ache: “Our nervous systems in toxic jobs are constantly on edge,” Reynolds said. “We are constantly anticipating, ready to react to an unpleasant boss or co-worker.”

Your mental health gets worse. If you feel like your boss is always out to get you, your mental health pays a price. One 2012 analysis of 279 studies linked perceptions of organizational unfairness with employee health complaints such as overeating and depression.

You get sick more often. A large body of research shows that chronic stress can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

You lose interest in sex. The American Psychological Association notes that when women have to juggle professional stress on top of their ongoing personal and financial obligations, it can reduce sexual desire. For men, this chronic stress can result in lower testosterone production, which in turn leads to lower libido.

You are tired all the time. Toxic jobs can create a cycle that drains us, said Pfeffer. “You’re feeling overwhelmed, because you’re working too long, and you’re working too long because you’re feeling overwhelmed,” he said

Your stomach is acting up. Indigestion, constipation, bloating can all be associated with stress, because stress impacts what the gut digests and can also change our gut bacteria, which in turn impacts our mood.

Your appetite changes. The article makes some very interesting points about how appetite is closely linked to your brain, and what that means from a professional point-of-view.

The article goes on to identify things you can do to combat these physical symptoms that are driven by a negative work situation. I hope you read them all here, and share your experiences!