How Does Your Job Affect Your Health?

The average person spends about one-third of their waking hours at work, so it's not surprising that your job can have a significant impact on your health. While most research has studied the detrimental effects of job-related stress on health, your job can also provide important social, mental and physical health benefits, resulting in improved quality of life and enhanced well-being.

Physical Health - Benefits

You might not immediately think of physical health benefits when you think about your job. While unemployment or a negative work environment can result in decreased physical health, a positive work environment may promote physical health and reduce sickness, according to Touchstone Extras, a publication of the British Trades Union Congress. In order for work to have a positive effect on your physical health, your job must be safe, allow you some level of control and influence over what you do and how you do it, and provide you with a sense of self-worth.

Physical Health - Consequences

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Most people correlate job stress with an increased likelihood of physical health issues such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks. Yet, factors not related to job stress can also have a detrimental impact on your physical health. Your job may result in the development of musculoskeletal problems like back pain and strain injuries, according to a 2012 article for HR Magazine by Ivan Robertson, professor of organizational psychology at Leeds University Business School. This is a particularly significant impact that can occur regardless of your job type, whether you sit for hours hunched over in front of your computer or work outside performing physical labor.

Mental Health - Benefits

You might be surprised to hear that your job can positively affect your mental health -- provided that certain conditions are met. According to a study published in 2011 in the journal, "Occupational & Environmental Medicine," the quality of your job is closely correlated to mental health. Factors such as benefits, job stability, fair pay and feelings of control on the job can all increase your overall job satisfaction, resulting in a positive impact on your mental health and decreased mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Positive relationships with co-workers and superiors result in increased social satisfaction and decreased feelings of social isolation, which can also provide significant benefits for your overall well-being.

Mental Health - Consequences

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Your job could cause numerous detrimental effects to your mental health. For many people, chronic job instability or facing unemployment is a particular concern that can negatively impact mental health. Too much job-related stress can result in the development of certain mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as drug abuse, alcoholism and gambling. Your relationships with your family and friends may also deteriorate if you feel that you are unable to effectively manage job-related stress. A study published in 1997 in the journal, "Industrial Health," found that job stress-related factors, such as too much responsibility, poor relationships with superiors, not being allowed to make mistakes and being unable to keep up with current technology, resulted in subjective reports of decreased levels of mental health and well-being.