All in a Day’s Work: Is Job Stress Affecting Your Health?

All in a Day’s Work: Is Job Stress Affecting Your Health?

Posted on 21. Sep, 2016 by in Articles

By Jack Challem

Is your job stressing you out? Stress can deplete important nutrients and take a toll on other aspects of health, including sleep and eating habits. It’s important to supplement with the nutrients that are depleted by stress and those that are needed for the body to produce a healthy stress response.

Many of us get so wrapped up in dealing with our day-to-day stresses — commonly related to work, deadlines, and commuting, or life at home — that we often don’t realize that we’re totally stressed out. With all of our responsibilities and distractions that consume our attention and energy, stress becomes the norm, and it’s difficult to even remember what normal once was.

When you feel stressed, day in and day out, everything about your natural biology goes out of alignment. The effects of stress are like a shock wave that ripples through every part of the body, and stress hormones set in motion still other changes that will contribute to your feeling tired or wiped out. The first step is to recognize the things that stress you out, and then you must learn to change them — or manage them better than you do.

What Exactly Is Stress?

We all hear the word stress, but what is it, really? It’s an unhealthy demand on your body or mind, something that pushes you beyond your normal equilibrium. Of course, some stresses are good for you, in that they can encourage creativity, problem solving, and productivity. But negative stresses push you in uncomfortable and unnatural ways and take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. They disrupt your biological and biochemical balance and whatever type of steadiness you strive for in your day-to-day life.

Most stresses seem to come from other people or from situations you are in, but many stresses actually originate in your own head or from your actions. People routinely internalize work or home stresses, essentially bringing them from the outside to the inside. Some people are especially good at generating their own stress and anxiety when there should be none, such as by feeling compelled to email or text when they should be sleeping or driving.

Others seem to excel in creating a lot of chaos or commotion in their lives when none, again, needs to exist. Whatever the source of your stress, it can affect your mood and your sleep habits, physical health, and energy levels.

The Multitasking Myth

There are many different sources of stress, but let’s focus on a common but often unrecognized stress inducer: multitasking. It is usually considered a way to increase our productivity, but it can quickly get out of hand, distract us, and interfere with sleep.

People multitask — that is, do two or more activities at once — to keep up with everything they have to do. We’ve all been told, or have somehow come to believe, that multitasking increases our productivity. It certainly seems to be true — we’ll get more done if we do two things at the same time.

It’s not true, though. Multitasking is a myth that so many businesses hold to as if it were a religious doctrine. Just because people do things in a more frenetic way does not mean they’re accomplishing more.

Study after study has shown that multitasking actually reduces productivity and increases the risk of people making mistakes. The reason is that the brain takes anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes to acclimate after switching gears. It is mentally fatiguing to multitask. It is also far more efficient, as quaint and old-fashioned as it might seem, to do one task at a time and to devote ourselves to finishing it before moving to another.

You might think that frequent multitaskers are better able to juggle more than one task, compared to the average person. Yet that’s not the case, either. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that people who multi-tasked a lot (compared to those who did so only a little) were actually more likely to be distracted and less able to ignore meaningless information. Less than 3 percent of people are efficient multitaskers, which means that the vast majority of folks are not very good at it; they just think they are.

Still other studies have shown that multitasking prompts the same stressful increases in adrenaline and cortisol as a fight-or-flight response. So instead of easing stress, multitasking makes it worse. And the more stressed and anxious you are, the more likely you will feel fatigued, and the greater your risk of developing adrenal exhaustion and other health problems.

Adrenal Exhaustion

Have you dealt with chronic stress for years — for example, by juggling work and parenthood — and now you feel totally exhausted and ready to crash whenever you stop? Or have you become so dependent on coffee that you believe it’s essential for sharpening your reflexes and mind in the morning to keep you going through the workday?

If your answer to either question is yes, there is a good chance you’re approaching or already suffering from subclinical adrenal exhaustion (which is different from what doctors call primary adrenal insufficiency).

One of the clues is if you consume more than five cups of coffee a day or more than two cups from the best-known national chain. Adrenal exhaustion is known by a number of names, including adrenal burnout, adrenal fatigue, and adrenal insufficiency. It is a disease of our modern stress-filled lives.

The adrenals serve as your stress-response glands and release a variety of hormones to maintain homeostasis — biological balance — in response to stress. The best known of these hormones are adrenaline (your fight-or-flight hormone) and cortisol (your long-term stress hormone). When faced with chronic stress, your body shifts from making adrenaline to cortisol. Adrenal burnout occurs when you lose your ability to make cortisol, which leads to exhaustion and fatigue.

Some of the most common symptoms of adrenal burnout include tiredness, weakness, listlessness, caffeine cravings, and low blood pressure and lightheadedness when standing up. A variety of gastrointestinal symptoms can also point to adrenal fatigue, such as gastritis, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Any and all types of stress can contribute to adrenal fatigue, and the more stresses in your life, the greater your risk of eventually developing adrenal burnout. Stress forces your adrenal glands to work harder to shield your body against those pressures. Poor eating habits contribute to adrenal burnout, because junk foods do not supply the nutrients you need to support adrenal hormone production.

Cortisol-inducing stresses include deadlines at work, unpleasant bosses and coworkers, and negative attitudes. Not getting enough sleep and not having sufficient down time can add to the stress. Long- term, abnormally high levels of cortisol accelerate the aging process and more. The hormone increases blood sugar levels and the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) form of cholesterol, which boosts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Supplemental Support

To deal with the effects of stress, it’s important to improve your adrenal function as soon as possible. Start with a high-potency multivitamin supplement that contains 50 to 75 mg each of vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Next, add extra amounts of the following supplements to enhance your adrenal function:

Vitamin C: Take at least 1,000 mg three times daily. Taking too much vitamin C will loosen your stools, so if that happens, simply reduce the amount.

Pantothenic acid: Take approximately 500 mg twice daily of this B vitamin, in addition to the amount that is in your multivitamin.

In addition, consider adding these supplements as well:

Phosphatidyl serine: Take 500 mg twice daily with food.

Zinc: Take 15 mg twice daily with food.

N-acetylcysteine: Take 500 mg of this antioxidant twice daily.

Learning to Sleep Well

Millions of people share a similar experience: they go through the workday feeling tired, yet they can’t get a restful night’s sleep. When the alarm goes off in the morning, they remain in denial for a few minutes, then drag themselves out of bed, stoke themselves with caffeine and a brisk shower, and then trudge off to work.

Stress-related anxiety and worries can stimulate the brain and leave you tossing and turning throughout the night. Your body requires sleep to recover and rejuvenate. If you don’t sleep well, you will age faster than normal, and your risk of becoming overweight and developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer will skyrocket.

One of the most common causes of sleep problems is stress. People in the United States and other Western nations sleep about one hour less per night compared with people a hundred years ago. Of course, a lot has changed in the lives of people during the last century. Electric lighting has become far more common, which enables us to get more accomplished instead of sleeping. We also have businesses that run 24/7 and compete internationally, so in many respects, much of the planet is lit up and working around the clock.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, the first step is to cut back on caffeine. It seems like a no-brainer, but excess caffeine consumption is one of the leading causes of poor sleep quality. If you want a better night’s sleep — especially if you’re stressed during the day — it’s essential that you reduce your caffeine intake, if not eliminate all caffeine from your diet.

Next, prepare yourself for sleep. For many people, going to sleep isn’t as simple as putting on pajamas and turning off the lights. Begin by dimming the lights about an hour or so before bedtime. Turn off the television, and don’t check your email, make late-night calls, or send texts. These activities tend to stimulate, rather than relax. Go to bed at a reasonable time, when you are likely to get a full eight hours of sleep.

Consider Natural Sleep Aids

Several dietary supplements can help promote restful sleep. L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxy- tryptophan (5-HTP) are the immediate precursors to serotonin, a relaxing neurotransmitter. You can take 50to100mgof5-HTP,or500mg of L-tryptophan, about one hour before bedtime.

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is both an amino acid and a neurotransmitter that increases the brain’s alpha waves, which are associated with improved mental focus and a sense of relaxation.

Magnesium may be helpful if your muscles feel tense at bedtime. Muscle spasms (including charley horses) and tightness almost always suggest inadequate magnesium levels. Consider taking 400 mg daily of magnesium citrate with meals.

It’s unlikely that the stresses we encounter at work are going to change, so it’s essential to nourish the body with the nutrients it needs to produce a healthy stress response. By supporting the adrenal glands and encouraging restful sleep, you’ll be ready to take on the stress from your job — while remaining healthy and at your best.

About the author:

- who has written 14 articles on Health e Times.


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