It's no fun going to work when you don't love your job. Maybe you're bored or can't stand the drudgery of your daily duties. Perhaps it's the deadline pressure or the office politics. Whatever the reason you dread your morning alarm, it's more than just bad for your psyche; a rotten job is bad for your health.
Here's how a job you hate can take a toll on your body.
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) reports that job stress is easily the biggest source of stress for American adults and it has continually increased over the past few decades. AIS cites a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report that found 40% of workers said their job was very or extremely stressful and 25% view their jobs as the main stressor in their lives. Similarly, an Attitudes in the American Workplace VII survey found 80% of workers feel stress on the job with nearly half saying they need help in learning how to manage stress. One-quarter say they have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress.
Stress can have a huge impact on your health. WebMD reports that 75 to 90% of doctor visits are stress-related. Negative stress can lead to problems like headaches, stomachaches, chest pain, skin problems, sleep issues and more serious issues like diabetes, asthma, arthritis and depression. Most of the following problems have their roots in stress.
According to a 2019 survey from Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit that works with companies to improve mental health resources, stress on the job impacts how long people stay at work. The survey found that half of millennial (defined in the survey as 23-38 years old) and 75% of Gen Z (18-22 years old) respondents have left a job, either voluntarily or involuntarily, due to mental health reasons. The findings are published in Harvard Business Review.
You gain (or lose) weight
You might end up packing on extra pounds because of stress, working long hours or just having no motivation to exercise. A survey by CareerBuilder found that more than half of office workers considered themselves to be overweight and 41% said they gained weight at their current jobs. More than one-third blamed their weight gain on stress eating.
Although it's more common to binge eat when stressed, some people lose their appetite instead. Your job may leave you too anxious to eat. Healthline explains that this is part of your body's "flight or fight" response. Stress increases the amount of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases acid production in the stomach in order to quickly digest food. That way, you can get ready to run and escape danger. The process also decreases appetite.
You can't sleep
When you can't stand your job, you likely have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
"A lot of times the first thing we’ll hear about is sleepless nights," Maryland-based clinical psychologist Monique Reynolds of the Center for Anxiety and Behavior Change tells HuffPost. "People report either not being able to sleep because their mind is racing or not being able to stay asleep. They wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their to-do list."
An occasional rough night isn't a big deal, but when insomnia is near-constant, it's dangerous. A lack of sleep has been linked to serious health problems including diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease including hypertension, stroke and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You have more overall health problems
A study by Ohio State University researchers found that people who are less satisfied with their jobs are more likely to be in poor overall health and have more problems like back pain and frequent colds than people who are happy with their jobs. You might notice that you have headaches, stomach issues and you might just feel rundown all the time.
In another study in Norway, researchers polled more than 4,000 nurses' aides. They found that those who were bothered by low back pain were more likely to have issues with their jobs. They often had problems with working the night shift, felt they had no support from bosses, or there was a "perceived lack of a pleasant and relaxing or supporting and encouraging culture in the work unit."
Your mental health suffers
Being stressed and unhappy at work can lead to anxiety and depression. Hardly surprising, but studies have found a link between job satisfaction and general life satisfaction. When you're happy at work, there tends to be a spillover into your non-work life. Unhappiness can be linked to issues with emotional health. When you're depressed or anxious, you might not have interest in things that you normally enjoy. You might not want to do things with friends or family and might just want to be alone.
In most cases, it's better for your mental well-being to have a job than to be unemployed. However, one study found that being without a job can be better for your emotional health than being stuck in a job you hate.
Your personal life takes a hit
When you're unhappy at work, there's a good chance you come home and take it out on those closest to you. That can mean bad news for your sex life. One study of married nurses found that there's a definite correlation between job stress and sex life satisfaction. If you're tense and unhappy after a day at work, you're unlikely to want to be relaxed and intimate when you get home.
What can you do if you don't like your job?
Find a new one
Get out, if you can. Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours in a job your hate. As you search for a new position, make sure you keep in mind all the things that you dislike about your current job, so you don't step right into the same situation.
Look for the positives
There surely are some good things about your job. Maybe you have an easy commute, there's free fruit in the break room or you have some good friends at work. Try not to dwell on all the things you hate and instead focus on the things you actually enjoy about your job. It will help you when you have a particularly bad day at work.
Don't just clock in, do your work and get out. There's a reason you went into your field, so rediscover your passion. "Never stop obtaining new info and skills. Even in awful jobs there may be the possibility of building your knowledge, experience, and skillset — which will help set you up nicely for future job opportunities," writes Eric Titner of The Job Network. "Although you don’t love your current job, make sure you take what you can from it and set yourself up to become better equipped professionally on the other side of this unhappy experience."
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in January 2019.