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Do you get a pit in your stomach every Sunday evening in anticipation of Monday? Do you feel tense and irritable every time you have to interact with a difficult colleague or boss?
While finding a perfect work situation may be impractical, tolerating a stressful or abusive job situation for a long period of time can take a significant toll on your health – from mild aches and pains to increased proclivity toward more serious illnesses.
Our bodies have a way of hitting us with the cold, hard truth that it’s time to make a change.
Here are 9 signs it’s time to consider looking for a new job – or at least make purposeful modifications to the existing one:
1. You feel sick often.
It’s no secret that stress takes a significant toll on our bodies. It can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress can also cause or worsen certain symptoms or diseases, according to WebMD. Worse still, you may experience a cycle of panic wherein the job causes stress that causes you to miss work or feel unable to perform your job, which in turn causes further stress.
2. You’re gaining weight.
Feeling anxious or depressed about a job situation can cause us to seek comfort in food, particularly unhealthy food. If the work stress is due to working long hours, we may feel we don’t have time to prepare nutritious meals and may avail ourselves of vending machine fare instead.
3. You’re losing weight.
For some of us, anxiety and sadness cause a diminished appetite. While healthy weight loss due to portion control and eating the right foods may be a good thing, losing weight due to meager appetite is not, as it deprives our bodies of necessary nutritional resources.
4. Your sleep is disturbed.
You may find yourself waking up in a panic thinking about an upcoming situation, or finding it hard to get to sleep at night. You may also experience nightmares about a job situation directly, or more symbolically – for example – dreams that involve being powerless or defenseless against a person in a position of authority.
5. Your sex drive is low.
Feeling anxious, depressed, or exhausted can cause a loss of interest in sex, or an inability to take one’s mind off of work enough to enjoy sex.
6. You’re quick to lash out at your partner/kids/friends/etc.
If you’re feeling marginalized or unappreciated by a boss or colleagues, but fear a confrontation, you may unconsciously transfer these negative feelings to a more “safe” target such as family members. You may feel more irritable or dissatisfied with relationships outside of work, reacting disproportionately or misinterpreting their remarks in a negative light.
7. Your skin changes.
Ever had the experience of coming back from vacation with glowing, radiant skin, and even compliments about how refreshed you look – only to find that two weeks later you’re back to dull skin, wrinkles, and under-eye circles? The skin is another stress barometer – particularly in the face. If your colleagues often comment that you look tired, sick, or pale, work stress may be to blame.
8. You lack energy.
If work is depleting all of your mental resources, you may find that you have nothing left to give to your family, your friends, or your interests.
9. You have frequent aches and pains unassociated with another condition.
This often manifests as pain in the back or in the head. You may notice that it heightens during particularly stressful times at work.
While leaving a job takes planning and courage in hefty doses (If it were easy, you would’ve done it already, right?), in the long term you may be doing yourself – and your body – a great favor.
In the meantime, you can cope with your current situation by deliberately practicing wellness techniques such as exercise, deep breathing, smart nutrition, and adequate sleep.
Here’s to work that enriches our minds and bodies!