Work of heart
â€œWorkâ€ is an unavoidable part of life. Ideally, you love your job, but even if you do it is possible to become â€œburnt outâ€ by your work if you arenâ€™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 â€œpart timeâ€, 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, â€œconnectivityâ€ via email, SMS and other mobile methods means that even outside of â€œworkâ€ 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.