Consequences of Stress – A Different Perspective

Did you know that April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day?  Ironically, you and I are probably too stressed to notice.  Well, in honor of April 16, I am dedicating all of the blog posts this month to the consequences of stress, and how to reduce stress.

We are so used to having stress in our work that I think we often forget the price we actually pay in the long run. This is because the consequences of stress (illness, early death) do not show until many years later. By contrast, the rewards of putting ourselves in stressful situations are more apparent and immediate – praise for a successfully completed project, a raise as a result of our stellar work, or a quicker path to promotion.

To raise more awareness that work related stress can actually kill you, I want to give you a different perspective than the accepted norm that stress is just part of life.  It is important to realize that you are choosing stress when you make decisions about where you work, how much you work, and how fast you try to climb the career ladder.

  • What if the consequences of your stress related to trying to get the maximum raise you want at the end of year, is you are 25-50% more likely to get a heart attack or stroke later in life?   This is actually based on facts (see infographics below). What would be your response?  Many of us think, “Maybe I will beat the odds and be part of that 50% that doesn’t get a heart attack or stroke.”  Is it really wise to gamble your health on those odds time after time?
  • What if overworking and over stressing can literally and directly kill you?  If you knew that for a fact, would you still want that promotion sooner?  Maybe not.  While I can’t say this for sure, there seems to be a lot of truth to the idea that overwork can kill you:  In one study of 820 adults, 53 of them died during the 20 year study period.  Additionally, in Japan, 10K managers, executives and engineers die annually from overwork. It seems like this happens because they work in hostile environments that cause higher levels of work-related stress.
  • What if which career you chose to pursue is directly linked to how long you might live?  Well, this is also true.  The following 10 careers are considered the most stressful careers of 2012, according to
    1. Soldiers
    2. Firefighters
    3. Airline pilots
    4. Military generals
    5. Police officers
    6. Event coordinators
    7. Public relations executives
    8. Corporate executives
    9. Photojournalists
    10. Taxi drivers

Do you feel like you are more aware of the consequences of stress on your health?  If so, will you do anything about it today?  What you choose to do every day at work (how long you work, how much you stress) can affect your long term health and happiness.  Remember, the annual salary we need to be happy is only about $50K.  Given this, how much of your health and how many years of life are you willing to sacrifice for more money and status beyond the $50K you need to be happy?

Your comments: Are you stressed at work?  If so, what are you doing about it?  I look forward to your comments below.

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Is Job Stress Killng You?

2 thoughts on “Consequences of Stress – A Different Perspective

  1. Marty Pollard

    Beware of hidden stress! Until I retired a year ago I was an engineer supporting a production line. It was an exciting but very stressful job. I actively managed my stress. I made room for quiet time at lunch. I took “spa days” in Calistoga, CA. Vacations morphed from adventure vacations into relaxation vacations (lying on the beach). Once I retired, though, I became acutely aware that I was harboring much more stress than I had ever realized. You need to be aware of stress in yourself and your employees. And whatever you are doing to manage it . . . well, you could probably do more.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      this is so true. Thanks for sharing. I remember realizing how high of a tolerance I had for stress when I worked at McKinsey and Deloitte. I think I trained myself for many years to just cope. It was my husband who pointed it out to me. I didn’t believe him at first, but once I quit Deloitte i realized how true it was.


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