Work_burnout_heart_web

Work of heart

“Work” is an unavoidable part of life. Ideally, you love your job, but even if you do it is possible to become “burnt out” by your work if you aren’t careful. We tend to think of the consequences of job burnout as largely mental, but a new study has shown that job stress has very real effects on your heart.

According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the hours worked by Australians are actually dropping. Average actual hours worked per week in all jobs have generally decreased over the past 32 years, from approximately 35.5 hours in early 1978 to approximately 33 hours in 2010. However, averages can be misleading; if you dig deeper the statistics also reveal that managers in businesses work an average of 48-51 hours per week. Perhaps the really telling statistic though is the increase in part-time work. Today, around 30 per cent of workers are “part time”, yet work between 30 and 34 hours per week. This is double the amount of part-time workers that existed 30 years ago. As any part-timer will tell you, part-time work usually means doing a full-time workload for part-time pay. Above and beyond all of this, “connectivity” via email, SMS and other mobile methods means that even outside of “work” hours people are still working. People also tend to be retiring later. This is all matters because there is only so much work a person can do before the effects become apparent, and those effects can impact your heart.

Job burnout essentially arises when you have high levels of job stress, persistently heavy workloads, lack of control over your work and lack of support. If these factors are ongoing, then the emotional strain tips over into physical damage. This was proven in a new study on 9000 people aged 19-67, who were followed for an average of three and a half years.

The results showed that people who were determined to be suffering from job burnout were 40 per cent more likely to be suffering from heart disease (including heart attack, narrowing of the arteries and angina). Even more significant, those in the 20 per cent who had the worst burnout scores were 79 per cent more likely to have heart disease than those in the bottom 20 per cent. According to the researchers, this puts job burnout as a stronger predictor of heart disease than smoking, blood fat levels and levels of exercise.

For your own sake, it is worth looking at what is causing your job burnout and get to the heart of the matter. Because your heart does matter.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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Work_stress_heart_Sept_web

Work of heart

We all have to work. It is the nature of life that we must occupy ourselves in ways that sustain our community and our own existence. In times past that work could have been trotting around after a tasty looking mammoth or cultivating a nice tuber crop. In the modern world what we describe as work usually involves employment by another person or organisation. We spend an estimated 92,000 hours working in an average lifetime so no wonder it shapes our experience. Now a new study has found that it also shapes your health and may increase your risk of a heart attack.

These findings are the result of a new study by researchers who did a meta-analysis of studies originating from thirteen countries across Europe that included more than 197,000 people. These were studies in which the participants were asked questions about their job including how free they were to make decisions, their job demands, excessive workloads, and levels of time-pressure. The studies spanned an average of 7.5 years and took place between 1985 and 2006.

The researchers defined that someone was experiencing job stress if they experienced high work demands but low levels of decision making and control.

The analysis showed that even after taking into account socioeconomic status, gender, age, and lifestyle there was a significant link between job stress and risk of heart attack. People experiencing job stress were 23 per cent more likely to have a heart attack during the studies than people not experiencing job stress.

It all adds new meaning to putting your heart into your work and adds impetus to the need to find your passion and spend those 92,000+ hours doing something that soothes your soul, feeds your mind, and sustains your body.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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