5 Ways Having A Toxic Job Affects Your Physical & Mental Health
by Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro
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Whether you were a part-time waiter, seasonal retail associate, or any position in between, most of us have worked in positions (or are still working in positions) that meet our financial needs, but may not be actually be in our chosen career field. Fast-paced and stressful jobs like waitressing often require a lot of energy, but the financial payoff rarely matches up to the energy performed. In fact, the eight lowest-paying jobs in the United States all require lots of labor. Conclusively, a bad job or low-quality working conditions can impact more than just your paycheck— often times, both your physical and mental health face consequences when working in stressful positions.

American adults who are employed full-time report working an average of 47 hours per week, so it is unsurprising that one’s work environment can influence the physical and mental health of employees. A 2017 Gallup study showed 51 percent of full-time employed Americans report being uninterested in their jobs, while another 16 percent actively disliked their workplaces. Employees who hate their jobs obviously have a detrimental effect on the employer and workplace atmosphere, but what does a bad job do to the individual? Here are five huge ways your bad job may be adversely affecting your physical and mental wellbeing.

You may develop sleep problems

If you’re working a low quality job that actively stresses you out, there is a good chance your sleep cycle is being negatively affected. Folks who worked bad jobs into their 40s reported a host of health consequences, including increased sleeping problems. Unfortunately, this can become a vicious cycle. If your work affects your ability to get a good night’s rest, it is almost certain that your lack of sleep will negatively impact your work. Sleep deprivation is linked to poor performance, less productivity, and a lack of alertness — which could even prove to be dangerous in some job fields. Sleep is your body and mind’s way of refreshing itself. Don’t allow your necessary sleep to fall second to an awful work schedule.

Stress can exacerbate mental health issues

A study from the University of Manchester found that having a job that is considered “poor quality” is actually worse for your mental health than being unemployed. People working in poor quality positions were shown to have higher levels of chronic stress, and stress alone can cause a myriad of physical and mental health issues. Research also indicates that folks who work in low quality jobs and have a psychiatric disorder often do not seek proper mental health care, due to fear of being fired because of mental health stigma. Depression is the leading cause of lost productivity in the United States, so employers definitely have incentive to make their workplaces more mental health-friendly. If your job makes you feel as though you have to choose between your income and your mental wellness, it may be time to start searching for a different employer. Your local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) can help you find employment resources if you are mentally or physically disabled, and struggling with your job.

Your eating habits might change

When you are working in a substandard job, unexpected weight gain or weight loss may be may be a sign you are engaging in unhealthy patterns in order to cope with stress. Studies show people who work low quality jobs are reported to have unintended weight gain due to disordered eating (such as skipping meals, or binge eating), as well as a lack of energy or motivation to exercise. Eating regularly and exercising — even just taking a walk — are crucial to your wellbeing generally, but becomes even more important when working a bad job. Nourishing your body is therapeutic, so try not to allow your work responsibilities to take priority over your basic needs.

A bad job might mean more brain fog

Brain fog is a state of fatigue characterized by poor memory recall, confusion, lack of focus, and an overall temporary decline of mental concentration. Basically, brain fog is your brain’s hazy way of saying it needs a nap. Though brain fog has been discussed more extensively in relation to disorders such as fibromyalgia and lupus, anyone can experience this debilitating fatigue in high stress situations. Brain fog is commonly triggered by lack of sleep, stress, and diet changes, so it’s no surprise that you may experience this mental haze if you’re working at bad job.

Your immune system could be jeopardized

If you work a crappy job that requires long hours, high stress situations, and not much appreciation in return, there is a good chance your ability to fight off the common cold is being weakened. Your immune system’s effectiveness directly correlates to the amount of negativity in your life, so your low quality job could make it way easier for you to get sick. It’s never a bad idea to take your Vitamin C to bolster your immune system, but reducing stress in the workplace may actually be more effective.

While not everyone has the financial freedom to just up and leave a bad job, it is important to recognize when your workplace is jeopardizing both your mental and physical health. If you are unhappy with your job, it is likely that you are not putting in much effort, which in turn negatively impacts your employer, too. No job or career is ever worth compromising your health.