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How Chronic Work Stress Damages Your Brain And 10 Things You Can Do

0 2 years ago

As the workplace headed into 2022—the third year of the pandemic—the incidence of job stress and burnout jumped to an all-time high. The American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being study found that 79% of the 1,501 employees surveyed experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Three in five workers said work-related stress caused them to have a lack of interest, motivation and energy at work. Plus, 36% had cognitive weariness, 32% emotional exhaustion, and 44% physical fatigue—a 38% jump from 2019.

Work stress shows up from our jobs in numerous ways. That sinking feeling before a presentation to colleagues or struggling with an impossible deadline. The negative chatter circling in our heads like a school of sharks. “Workjerkery,” pressures and demands from upper management. Or lately being forced back into the office after feeling productive working from home during the pandemic. According to a Future Forum Pulse survey, work stress is at an all-time high, and work-life balance is at an all-time low. In April of this year, work-related stress hit its highest level since surveys began in the summer of 2020 as more workers are pulled back into full-time office positions after pandemic quarantines. These statistics are alarming because chronic work stress can cause brain damage.

Neurological Dangers Of Chronic Work Stress

We know that professional football players and boxers suffer brain damage from constant punches to the head. But recent research shows that acute stress also causes structural changes in the brain circuitry that can cause long-term harm on the nervous system. Chronic job stress such as an abusive boss, sexual harassment, a bully coworker or a work culture that thrives on crisis, chaos and pressure are examples of work stress that can cause atrophy of the brain mass and decrease in brain weight.


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