The Costs of Job Stress

The Costs of Job StressJOB stress only adds to a host of stressors facing unpaid family caretakers, and this all can take a toll on both your career and your health.

If you are a family caregiver, think about how much time do you spend, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Some 65 million unpaid family caregivers look after elderly or disabled loved ones, averaging 20 hours/wk. AARP did a study that put the 2009 annual burden on unpaid family caregivers at $480 billion/year, including lost worker productivity, reduced earning capacity & retirement income, and increases in their own physical & emotional health and related costs. It’s more than the $361B in Medicaid spending and nearly as much as the $509B in Medicare spending.

The infographic below, from, identifies JOB stress as a leading factor in poor health, but so is not getting enough sleep.  Of course the two are closely related. After the infographic and listed highlights (for blind people using a screen reader) are related infographics and articles on both Stress and Sleep. Enjoy, but don’t stress out.

The Costs of Job Stress

Text Highlights

Job stress, the #1 cause of stress in the U.S., is a leading factor in poor health and reduced creativity and problem solving ability, costing American businesses $300 billion dollars a year.

Top 5 Causes of Stress

  1. Job Pressure: Co-Worker Tension, Bosses, Work Overload
  2. Money: Loss of Job, Reduced Retirement, Medical Expenses
  3. Health: Health Crisis, Terminal or Chronic Illness
  4. Relationships: Divorce, Death of Spouse, Arguments with Friends, Loneliness
  5. Poor Nutrition: Inadequate Nutrition, Caffeine, Processed Foods, Refined Sugars

Stress and Work

  • 76 % cite money and work as the leading cause of their stress
  • 41% say they “feel tense or stressed out during the workday,” an increase 36% just a year earlier.
  • 38% of employees can’t stop thinking about problems like emotional, health, financial and job concerns.
  • Just 58% of employees say they have the resources necessary to manage stress.
  • The most-stressed employees developed heart problems at a 79% higher rate than their less-stressed peers.
  • Stress is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for employees.

Stress, Creativity, and Problem Solving

  • Just 10% of people do their best thinking at work
  • On days of the most extreme time pressure, workers are 45 percent less likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem.
  • “when you work under the gun, creativity is usually the first casualty.” – Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School professor

How Does Stress Effect Creativity?

  • Stress signals the body that there is a threat or danger, triggering “fight or flight” response and disrupting the rational parts of our brains.
  • This results in “tunnel vision,” which narrows our ability to see multiple viewpoints of a problem.
  • Under stressful conditions we get fixated on re-working a specific detail of a project, rather than exploring other options.

Effects of Stress on Your Health

  • 75-90% of all doctor office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try and relieve their stress
  • 54 percent say that stress or anxiety increased their anxiety about falling asleep at night

How Does Stress Shrink the Brain?

  • Long-term exposure to the hormone cortisol (released when you’re stressed) appears to cause brain neurons to shrink and interferes with their ability to send and receive information via branches called dendrites
  • Major life stress may shrink brain neurons in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), the brain area responsible for problem-solving, adaptation to challenge, emotional processing and regulation, impulse control, and regulation of glucose and insulin metabolism.

How Employers Can Reduce Job Stress

  • Align workload with capability and capacity of workers
  • Make room for workers to grow and use talent in their positions
  • Ensure all workers know their job responsibilities
  • Let workers have a say in changes related to their jobs
  • Make sensible work schedules

Google Case Study: How the World’s Most Successful Tech Company Helps Employees Manage Stress and Be More Creative

  • Offices feature open physical space for idea exchange and collaboration.
  • A community atmosphere means that if you’re stressed, there’s someone to help and take up the slack.
  • Subsidized massages.
  • Free yoga and pilates classes.
  • A course called “Unwind: the art and science of stress management”
  • A health consultation and follow-up with a personal health counselor

How Employees Can Reduce Stress

  1. Develop a stress inventory by keeping track of situations, people, and events that cause you stress. After a week, begin to evaluate solutions for each item.
  2. Improve your time management skills so you feel less under the gun.
  3. Keep perspective by getting other points of view, taking breaks, having an outlet, and taking care of yourself.

Coping with Stress in General

  1. Take a Daily DHA Supplement – DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is a central building block of brain tissue.
  2. Exercise Most Days – In studies with mice, exercise led to more improved performance on cognitive tasks than exposure to enriched environments with lots of activities and stimulation.
  3. Do Yoga, Meditate, or Pray – These activities can activate “the relaxation response,” which lowers blood pressure and heart rate and lowers subjective anxiety.

Related Articles

The most popular keyword tags listed in the sidebar at right feature some two dozen articles on SLEEP. You can also do a keyword search for articles on STRESS. But here are my favorites:

Related Infographics (on STRESS)

  1. How Stress Affects the Body 
  2. Digital Stress and Your Brain 
  3. The effects of stress and what you can do about it 
  4. Women and Stress: 7 ways to reduce stress Related Infographics (on SLEEP)

Related Infographics (on SLEEP)

  1. You Need More Sleep 
  2. The Basics of Sleep 
  3. Sleep is Awesome 
  4. The Secret to Better Sleep 
  5. What is Sleep Apnea? 
  6. Sleep Apnea in America 
  7. Tips for Better Sleep
  8. Healthiest Sleeping Positions 
  9. Sleep or Die 
  10. Sleep: an animated infographic 
  11. Brain: an animated infographic 
  12. Dos and Don’ts of a Good Night’s Sleep 
  13. The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation 
  14. 5 Habits Linked to Brain Health