Exactly How Sticking With A Job You Hate Is Bad For Your Health

Time to ask yourself: Is it worth it?

September 8, 2017
working in a cubicle
CSA-Printstock/getty

If you hate your job, don’t hang onto it for too long—working a job that bums you out can have serious long-term health consequences, according to research from Ohio State University.

And those negative health effects can outlast the crappy job—the study, published this spring in Social Science And Medicine, found that consistently poor or declining job satisfaction in your 20s and 30s had leads to poorer mental health later on in life." Job satisfaction can begin to affect your health by your early 40s," Jonathan Dirlam, one of the study authors, told Ohio State News..

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Related: 7 Practical Ways To Make Your Work Routine Healthier

The study found the highest levels of depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry in people who were dissatisfied with their jobs throughout their 20s and 30s. Those people were also more likely to be diagnosed with emotional problems. By contrast, those who started out happier with their work but became unhappy over time also lost sleep and worried more, but weren’t as depressed and didn’t see in increase in their likelihood of being diagnosed with emotional problems. (That’s not much of a silver lining, though—not sleeping enough can lead to serious health problems including heart disease.)

Related: 9 Foods Proven To Help You Sleep

And the toll isn’t just psychological. Feeling physically sick when heading to your job? It’s not all in your head. The Ohio State study noted that people who reported low job satisfaction had poorer overall health, and also reported more back pain and getting sick more often. (Do you suffer from back pain? Here are three easy yoga poses that condition and protect your spine.)

Another study found that the stress of working an unsatisfying job was associated with a lower white blood cell count, which puts you at an increased risk for infections. And another found that prolonged exposure to job stress puts women at an increased risk for heart disease. (Stress can also exacerbate allergies and make your periods worse—here are 10 ways stress takes a toll on your body.)

Related: 10 Quick And Easy Ways To De-Stress In Under A Minute

 

The good news is, the study found that people who started out hating their jobs but whose job satisfaction improved over time didn’t have the health problems of those who were stuck in a job that they detested.

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So check in with yourself, and if you hate what you do, do your future self a favor and do what you can to stop working at a job you hate. You don’t necessarily have to leave your place of employment—maybe there’s a different department or position that would be more satisfying.

At the very least, if you can, try taking a brief vacation. Remember to prioritize your health. You can find another job, but you only get one life.