The Grapevine

How A Bad Job Could Lead To Bad Health

While we are all prone to our fair share of the Monday blues and occasional complaints about a mean boss, a toxic job may need you to speak up and incite change. Here are five ways it can result in physical and mental health consequences.

1. By inducing sedentary behavior

One of the first ill effects that come to mind is the long-term impact of sitting at a desk during most of the day — an increased risk of obesity and associated diseases. Long, uninterrupted use of a computer can additionally contribute to problems like dry eye.

Your job should allow you to take short breaks through the day to move around. Studies suggest that even a five-minute walk on an hourly basis can help counter these damaging effects. Furthermore, you may also consider performing desk exercises.

2. By following you back home

Last year, researchers found the mere expectation of having to keep checking work-related emails during non-office hours could contribute to higher levels of stress and anxiety. This also affects family members who may feel they are not able to spend enough quality time together.

Practice ways to establish healthy limits (for instance, turning off push notifications or only checking emails once an hour rather than every few minutes) to maintain a good work-life balance.

3. By interfering with sleep, social life

Unpredictable shifts and irregular timings can reduce sleep quality which, over time, has been linked to a higher risk of chronic diseases. For those who work in the law enforcement or at hospitals, inadequate sleep can have concerning effects on work performance

Poor sleep can also make you less sociable, increasing feelings of isolation. "It’s not just being irritable, it’s being no good for anybody because you’re overwhelmed and haven’t slept," said Christina Maslach, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

4. By grouping you with toxic co-workers 

E. Kevin Kelloway of St. Mary’s University notes that injustice in the form of unfair treatment is a "particularly toxic" stressor in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, being around a boss or coworker you don't get along with can be damaging for your mental health in the long run.

Many employees have reported that their immediate supervisor is a significant source of stress. Psychologists have also found that stressed workers perform 50 percent worse on cognitive tests. While it is hard to offer one-size-fits-all advice in this case, here are a few tips on how to speak up about the issue.

5. By affecting your eating habits 

Studies have shown that many workplaces offer unhealthy and processed food options such as pizza, soda, cookies, brownies, cake, and candy. We know that stress can make some people crave sugar — all the more hard to resist when snacks are offered for free.

Stephen J. Onufrak, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led a new study highlighting how workplace foods are often high in calories, refined grains, added sugars, and sodium. "Employers can offer appealing and healthy options in cafeterias, vending machines, and at meetings and social events," he suggested.