Is it the job that is making you sick?

40 percent of professionals report daily stress at work, and one in two of them say they regularly reach their limits and become ill as a result. People in management positions, nursing professions and social work are particularly at risk, but in principle this can happen in any job. Most of those affected think they have to accept their situation, feel powerless and desperate. But this is not true – there are always options to reduce stressors at work and get healthy again!

Signs that your job is making you sick

Is your job already making you sick or is this still normal stress? It’s always good to recognize early on that something is wrong and act before it gets worse. The following characteristics provide the first indications that your job is indeed negatively affecting your health:

1. you feel permanently overstrained and stressed

Do you know the feeling that you just boot up the computer and already don’t know where your head is? High expectations, an overcrowded schedule, one deadline after another and constant pressure from superiors are things that everyone can only endure for so long. In the long run, stress is the worst kind of illness.

2. you are mentally at work even after work hours

Unsolved problems and unfinished projects don’t let you go even at the dinner table, maybe you open the laptop again late at night and sit down to tasks you haven’t been able to finish yet.

3. you are often sick

It’s normal to catch a wave of colds every winter or to have a stomach ache before important appointments. However, if infections or complaints such as nausea, intestinal problems, headaches, neck pain or back pain occur more and more frequently – almost weekly – you should be seriously concerned.

4. you already long for the weekend on Mondays

It’s clear that a job can’t be fun at all times, and free time is almost always better than having to work. However, the job should already fulfill you to the extent that you do not wish every minute you spend with it somewhere else completely and count the seconds until the next free time. Being in the flow, having fun at work and surpassing yourself with challenging tasks releases new energy and should be part of your daily work routine at least once in a while.

5. you are constantly underchallenged

Yes, you heard right. Too few and unchallenging tasks not only make the working time hardly pass by, but can also make you sick due to permanent boredom. Just like frustration that one is not trusted with anything and is not given any responsibility.

What exactly leads to permanent stress?

Have you already answered YES to any of the above? Or even several? Far too many people think this level of stress and strain is normal on the job. But it is not. But where does this permanent stress come from in the first place? There are a variety of factors that can lead to this:

  • Unrealistic demands on the part of the employer
  • Conflicts between colleagues
  • Too many projects in a row
  • Permanent availability for superiors and colleagues
  • Too much physical strain
  • Frequent overtime
  • Insufficient payment
  • Low esteem
  • Insecure working conditions
  • Long commutes
  • Little say
  • Poor communication
  • Mobbing

Perhaps by now it has become a little clearer to you where your constant stress at work comes from. This is an important first step! Because only if you acknowledge your suffering and understand where it comes from, you can actively do something for your health.

First aid for your own health

The worst thing is to do nothing and stay in your misery. Far too many people think they can do nothing, that it could be worse for them or that there is no more suitable job elsewhere. Below are some ideas that can help them get back on their feet:

Talking to your boss
Many find it hard to admit their stress and illness to their employer. Others seem to be able to cope… However, it is no use if you drift further and further into the health abyss and nothing happens. It is best to go into the conversation with concrete suggestions for improvement. How such suggestions could look like, you can see in the following points.

Change of the area of responsibility
Whether you are over- or underchallenged with your current tasks, besides the solution to take over more responsibility or to give some away, a new area of responsibility could also be the solution for you. Do you work in sales and actually don’t feel comfortable with so much customer contact – maybe a change to the back office is possible? Conversely, do you only spend time at your desk and look to have more interaction and customer meetings outside of the office – suggest a move to field sales.

Reduction in working hours
It is worth considering a reduction in hours especially if overwork or not enough free time is the reason for your illness. Really ask yourself if this wouldn’t be a solution, at least temporarily, financially possible or if you can’t cut costs elsewhere. After all, health is priceless.

Do home office
If the long commutes are stressful for you and drain your energy, working at home a few days a week can be relieving. Also because you have the opportunity to cook something fresh, go for a jog or take a short nap during your lunch break.

Improve working conditions
Sometimes very specific symptoms such as back or neck pain can be improved with small reliefs in everyday life, such as a better office chair or a height-adjustable desk. You may also need a second monitor or a faster computer to work more effectively.

Create relaxation phases
Try to organize your daily routine differently. Consider whether routines, reduced screen time after work, relaxation techniques or more exercise can help you.
Read also: Relaxing properly – New energy for stressful everyday life.

Most important: Make your health your number one priority! In the long term, you won’t be able to work without it, and your employer shouldn’t be interested in that either. And also privately you will be less and less efficient. It shows strength to acknowledge the illness, to stand up for yourself and to act.

Last resort: resignation?

Before you think about quitting your job, you should of course exhaust all the measures mentioned and try to actively change your situation. Nevertheless, it may be that there are either hardly any possibilities for change or that you have perhaps already resigned internally. However, it is advisable, as far as it is bearable, to look for a new job before you quit, so that the pressure to find something new is not added to your burden of disease.

  • Gallup:, accessed 09.12.2022.
  • Neuner, Ralf: Psychische Gesundheit bei der Arbeit: Betriebliches Gesundheitsmanagement und Gefährdungsbeurteilung psychischer Belastung. Wiesbaden, 2016.
  • Reif, Julia; Spieß, Erika & Stadler, Peter: Dealing effectively with stress. Health management at work. Berlin, 2018.
  • Siegrist, Johannes & Dragano, Nico: Psychosocial stress and risk of illness in working life. Bundesgesundheitsblatt (2008), vol. 51.
  • Unger, Hans-Peter; Kleinschmidt, Carola: Before the job makes you sick: How today’s working world drives us into mental exhaustion and what can be done about it. Munich, 2007.

Categories: Burnout Depression

Dr. med. Kjell R. Brolund-Spaether
Ärztlicher Direktor und Chefarzt Dr. med. Kjell R. Brolund-Spaether
Dr. med. Kjell R. Brolund-Spaether ist renommierter Facharzt für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, bei dem stets der Mensch im Mittelpunkt steht: Dank seiner individuell abgestimmten, ganzheitlichen Behandlungspläne verbessert und personalisiert er die psychiatrische Versorgung kontinuierlich. Seine umfassende Expertise in der psychotherapeutischen und medikamentengestützten Behandlung erlangte er durch sein Studium der Humanmedizin an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, spezialisierte Weiterbildungen sowie seine langjährige Erfahrung in führenden Positionen. Seit 2019 ist Dr. med. Brolund-Spaether als Chefarzt und seit 2023 als Ärztlicher Direktor der LIMES Schlosskliniken AG tätig. 2024 trat er unserem Vorstand bei.

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