Do you feel your boss is causing you no end of stress? About to march to HR with a least of grievances?
Before you do, it might be worth considering the findings of a new study that claims that work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to stress may be the fault of your own genes.
Lead author Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business in Indiana, studied nearly 600 twins – some identical, some fraternal – who were raised together, and apart.
Stress Is Part Of Success
"We all need something to spur us along, so recognise stress as a part of the process. Only when you cannot escape it at the end of the day is it time to really worry. So make sure you plan treats and fun or relaxing activities for your leisure time."
Give Yourself Some Contingency
"Allow extra time to get there early or finish before it's needed to reduce stress levels from the start."
"Doing nothing more than getting up from your desk, having a stretch and walking about a little will reduce your stress levels. If you can take fifteen minutes to take a walk outside, the effect will be even greater."
Focus On Your Achievements
"Often when we are stressed we focus on failures and things we have yet to do. Focus on success and what you have done, to give you a sense of control. Celebrate your successes to replace feelings of stress with a sense of pride."
Have A Rant... But Choose Your Timing Carefully
"If you need to let off steam, do it with the right person at the right time: a trusted friend, outside of work hours. Remember, if you spend too much of your home life moaning or being angry, you will damage one of your most powerful stress-busting assets: your family relationships. So invest time in strengthening them."
A Problem Shared
"If you do feel the first signs of stress, talk to others around you. If they are stressed too, then you will know you aren't alone. If they are not, then perhaps they can help calm you."
"For many people, an untidy work space increases feelings of stress. Deal with it. The delay will more than be compensated by subsequent increases in your efficiency, and getting your area tidy will give you an immediate sense of control."
One Thing At A Time
"Not only is multi-tasking inefficient, but it adds to your stress levels. Do one thing at a time and you will be calmer and do better quality work."
"If you cannot take the time for a nutritious and relaxing lunch break, at least choose healthy snacks, so you can feel virtuous. Plenty of fresh water, nuts, fruit, dried fruit and raw vegetables all help you to keep your body well, and enhance your resilience."
Build In Planning Time
"Time to plan and prepare will leave you feeling calm from the start."
He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health, but that shared genes turned out to be around four times as important as a shared environment.
"Assume James and Sandy both work in the same organisation," Judge said. "James reports more stress than Sandy.
"Does it mean that James' job is objectively more stressful than Sandy's? Not necessarily. Our study suggests strong heritabilities to work stress and the outcomes of stress.
“This means that stress may have less to do with the objective features of the environment.”
"Standing" Jobs And Arthritis
Everyday Health reported that <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis-pictures/9-worst-jobs-for-your-joints.aspx#/slide-4" target="_hplink">foot arthritis</a> can be a health risk for people who have to stand a lot for work -- including teachers -- because they are on their feet all day. Therefore, people who have to <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis-pictures/9-worst-jobs-for-your-joints.aspx#/slide-4" target="_hplink">stand a lot for their jobs</a> should choose to regularly wear comfortable shoes and not high heels, according to Everyday Health, because wearing high heels can put stress on the joints in your feet. In fact, standing too long -- as well as other factors like being overweight or having higher or flat arches -- are linked with an increased risk of <a href="http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/starting-out/tips-for-success/heel-pain-arthritis.php" target="_hplink">many kinds of arthritis</a>, according to <em>Arthritis Today</em>.
Soldiers And Stress
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591971&title=1_Enlisted_Soldier" target="_hplink">enlisted solider</a> topped this year's CareerCast.com ranking of the most stressful jobs. The ranking took into account factors like physical demands, risks to your life or to others' lives, competitiveness, deadlines and meeting with the public. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591970&title=2_Firefighter" target="_hplink">Firefighters</a> ranked second on the 2012 list, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591969&title=3_Airline_Pilot" target="_hplink">airline pilots</a> ranked third.
Dancers And Divorce
According to 2000 Census data analyzed in a Radford University study, <a href="http://blogs.menshealth.com/health-headlines/the-5-worst-jobs-for-your-marriage/2011/06/06" target="_hplink">dancers have the highest rate of divorce</a>, at 43 percent, and bartenders have the second highest rate, at 38 percent, <em>Men's Health</em> reported. Other surprising jobs also made the top list, with roofers having a 27 percent divorce rate and sailors having a 26 percent divorce rate, according to <em>Men's Health</em>. (<a href="http://blogs.menshealth.com/health-headlines/the-5-worst-jobs-for-your-marriage/2011/06/06" target="_hplink">For reasons why, read the <em>Men's Health</em> piece.</a>)
Construction Work And Lung Problems
Health.com reported that <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20443619_2,00.html" target="_hplink">inhaled dust from construction</a> could put workers at risk for lung problems like cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. In fact, occupational lung disease is the No. 1 cause of <a href="http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/lung_diseases/lung/occupationallung/Pages/index.aspx" target="_hplink">work-related illness</a>, according to Oregon State University. Symptoms include chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing abnormally, according to OSU, and the disease can be caused by either by long-term exposure to the hazard, or by a particularly bad one-time exposure to the hazard.
Personal Caregivers And Depression
People whose job it is to <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_2,00.html" target="_hplink">care for someone</a> -- for example, nursing home workers -- have the highest rate of depression, Health.com reported. Eleven percent of people in this field of work have had a major depressive episode. Comparatively, 13 percent of unemployed people and 7 percent of the general population has had a major depressive episode. "It is stressful, seeing people sick and not getting a lot of positive reinforcement," clinical psychologist Christopher Willard, of Tufts University, <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_2,00.html" target="_hplink">told Health.com</a>. Last year, Reuters reported the results of a Caring.com survey that showed that one in four people who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/caregivers-depression_n_854538.html" target="_hplink">care for an elderly relative</a> or friend have depression.
Shift Workers And Sleep Problems
There have been numerous studies showing the potential health problems of shift workers, and a big one is sleep. In fact, there's a name for it -- <a href="http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/sleep_disorders/hic_shift_work_sleep_disorder.aspx" target="_hplink">shift work sleep disorder</a> -- and it's caused by the different sleep and wake schedules of people who work at nontraditional hours of the day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms of shift work sleep disorder include having no energy, having headaches and finding it difficult to concentrate, the <a href="http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/sleep_disorders/hic_shift_work_sleep_disorder.aspx" target="_hplink">Cleveland Clinic reported</a>. As a result, the risk is raised of work-related mistakes, accidents, mood problems and taking sick leave.
Overtime Work And Depression
Working overtime -- 11 or more hours a day -- is linked with a more than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/overtime-work-depression_n_1234025.html" target="_hplink">doubled risk of a major depressive episode</a>, compared with people who work the more standard seven to eight hours a day, according to a recent <em>PLoS ONE</em> study. Researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London looked at health and work data from 2,000 middle-aged Brits over a nearly 6-year period, and saw that there was a definite link between overtime hours worked and depression risk. And for more health risks associated with working long hours, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/28/overtime-work-hurts-health_n_1237941.html#s646069&title=Sitting" target="_hplink">click here</a>.
The battle of nature vs nurture shows that even at work, nature wins. Changing a job to free yourself of stress is probably not going to do the trick unless you appreciate your own predispositions toward stress, Judge argued.
"This doesn't mean we shouldn't do things as employers or individuals to avoid stressful jobs," Judge said.
"However, we also shouldn't assume that we're 'a blank slate' and therefore be overly optimistic about what the work environment can and can't do as far as stress is concerned. More of it has to do with what's inside of us than what we encounter outside in the work environment."
Results of the study appeared in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.