Work stress is bad for your heart, according to new research. No big surprise there. But how bad is it…and what can you do to give your heart a break?
The study, which was published in The Lancet, found that work stress—whether that’s caused by demanding deadlines or an insane workload— increases your risk of heart attack or death from heart disease by 23 percent. And it does so in a bunch of ways, apparently—by damaging blood vessels and increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. Yikes.
Now, chances are you’re not in a position quit your job right away, but the good news is, how you react to work stress is more important than how stressful your job actually is. So here, some tips to keep you stress-free—even when those impossible deadlines hit.
- Control what you can. Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and stop smoking, because stress is actually less harmful than lighting up and being a couch potato. (Bonus: All that exercise can also de-stress the body and mind.)
- Find ways to chill out. Actitivies such as yoga, Tai Chi, or massage can all reduce stress, as can meditation—just a few minutes a day can wipe away the effects of a taxing eight-hour shift.
- Use all of your vacation. And don’t bring your work with you—vacation is all about escape.
- Go for the promotion. Putting yourself up for a big job can be tougher in the moment, but it can benefit you in the long-term—leaders are less stressed than underlings—partly because they have more control over their own activities.