Q: My brother puts in ridiculous hours and doesn’t like what he does. His wife tells me that they’re arguing all the time. I’m worried about his health. What can I tell him to help him feel better about things? – Rosera B., Atlanta
A: Workplace stress that often comes from long working hours, shift work, work/family conflict and job strain is very prevalent and has a far-reaching impact on health. Our RealAge calculates (realage.com) stress as the greatest ager. That’s why reducing it is a cornerstone of do-over programs at Dr. Mike’s Wellness Center.
And now a new study from Harvard and Stanford says workplace stress is as damaging as secondhand smoke. That’s probably an underestimate, but everyone agrees that stress ups the risk of premature coronary heart disease and heart attack by at least 23 percent. And if you feel your workplace treats you unfairly, it increases your odds of having a physician-diagnosed condition by about 50 percent.
Rosera, tell your brother about the risks and tell him he’s not alone! Sixty percent of Americans say on-the-job tensions are their main source of stress. Then, emphasize that he and everyone else can take steps to ease those tensions.
Stress-busting 101: Get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly; 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily; eat no added sugars or syrups, only lean proteins and no trans and few saturated fats; and make sure you get in at least 30 minutes of added physical activity five days a week.
Next, at work, take break times: Try using 5-10 minutes for mindful meditation (see “Dr. Oz: The 5 Minute Meditation Plan”) or head outside to stretch your legs.
Then reach out to your employer to discuss ways to ease tensions. Some proven stress-reducers: Creating a way for employees to offer suggestions for improving the work process, and limiting overtime and erratic changes in shift work.
Unmanaged job-stress inflates health-care costs for employers and has an even greater negative effect on productivity. Everyone wins when job-related stress loses.
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.