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Is it true that hard work pays off, and, if so, at what cost? More often than not, you hear about people struggling to find work-life balance, and doing anything and everything to eliminate stress from their everyday lives, with varying levels of success.
The Facts of Overworked Americans
Americans have become increasingly overworked and are putting in longer hours, using less vacation time, and taking on more responsibilities than in prior decades. Here are some shocking statistics from a study by American Psychological Association on the grim realities of overworked employees:
- Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. companies more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal, and insurance costs.
- One-third of U.S. employees are chronically overworked.
- 83 percent of workers say they have worked while sick.
- 51 percent of employees said their productivity was negatively affected due to stress on the job.
- Between 1977 and 2002, the combined weekly work hours of dual-earner couples with children increased by an average of 10 hours per week, from 81 to 91 hours.
Stressful Jobs in America
PayScale’s Stressed Across America package provides a list of stressful jobs in different cities and compares their median salaries. As the data reveals, pay has little to do with the amount of stress experienced by a certain occupation. For example, a Medical Assistant in New Orleans earning a median pay of $25,800 experiences the same amount of stress (67 percent) as an Interior Designer in Atlanta earning a median salary of $40,400, and an Automotive Engineer in Detroit earning a median salary of $79,100.
Likewise, occupations with the highest earning potential on the list (Technical Programmer: $121,300; and VP of Sales: $159,900), have similar job stress levels of approximately 81 percent as jobs in the $65,000+ range (Fashion Designer).
To see the full interactive infographic and data, check out the Stressed Across America package, here.
The Effects of Being Overworked
The real concern is what happens when someone is chronically overworked and, for that matter, overstressed? A 2004 study conducted by Families and Work Institute, found that overburdened employees are more likely to make mistakes, more likely to have feelings of animosity towards their employers due to their workload, and more likely to resent their co-workers who don’t put in the same amount of work.
More shockingly, The American Institute of Stress warns Americans that, “Increased levels of job stress […] have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders.”
When stress begins to rule your life, in and out of the workplace, your overall well-being takes a huge hit, not to mention the toll it takes on your loved ones, too. In an effort to help ease the blow from job stress, here are a few ways to de-stress and find a bit of happiness amongst the angst.
How to Eliminate Stress
1. Start your day off right, and end it on a good note – Make the most of your time by establishing routines that help you better prepare for your day. More on that, here and here.
2. Get organized – There’s nothing worse than adding disorganization to the stress of the workday. Help yourself out by organizing one thing a day, whether that be your desk, a drawer, or your wardrobe. Just do something that makes your life less hectic and dysfunctional. Start small.
3. Exercise or meditate – Studies show that getting active and/or meditating have positive effects on a person’s emotional state and overall health, while also being a great way to combat stress for many.
4. Say no to nay-sayers and pessimists – Negative people will only add to your stress by justifying your dismal outlook on life and your job. Therefore, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people who know how to kick the job-stress blues.
5. Take a day off for yourself – You heard us right -- take a personal day to do whatever your little heart desires. The world’s not going to end, nor is your company going to cease to operate, simply because you chose to take a day off to recharge and de-stress.
Job stress doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence -- there is hope. In the meantime, don’t forget to take a step back and breathe because you’re not alone.
Tell Us What You Think
How do you effectively cope with job stress? Share your input with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.