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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Why work is good for you!


If you dread Mondays and would rather be hiding in bed, you might be surprised to learn that working could actually be good for your health.

New research shows people who work past retirement age are healthier than those who give up their job.

A study found that almost three-quarters of working women aged 55 to 75 described their health as good, compared with less than half of those who had retired.

The research, carried out by the Government's Department of Work and Pensions, also revealed that working men of the same age were healthier than those who had stopped work.
To find out why working is good for your health, uncovers the reasons why your job could be keeping you fit

Ever done a good day's work and felt almost exhilarated? It's hard to believe but working under pressure - or to a tight deadline - can actually give us a 'natural high'.

According to stress counsellor Liz Tucker, our bodies are designed to be mentally stimulated on a daily basis.
'This response goes back to our natural reactions as cavemen thousands of years ago. When we came face to face with an animal our body would prepare to 'fight or flight'.

'This meant we would either fight an animal for food or to fend off danger. Alternatively, we would flee a potentially dangerous situation if we felt threatened,' she says.

Today, Liz explains, this reaction is triggered by running for the bus or meeting tight deadlines, for example.
So how does this happen? When we find ourselves in stressful circumstances, our brain releases certain chemicals that 'prepare' our body to cope with that situation.

First, the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are released into our body, increasing our heart rate, bringing more oxygen to our lungs and releasing a surge of energy. This process temporarily boosts our energy, gives us temporary muscle power, forces us to breathe in a short and shallow way and allows our body to move quickly or reach an instant decision.
Once adrenaline is triggered, other feel-good chemicals called serotonin and endorphins flood our body to assess how well we've done our task. This is our body's way of rewarding itself for completing a job.

'Our body looks to experience these chemicals on a daily basis,' says Tucker. 'It's a satisfying feeling and our body's incentive for having babies, moving house, falling in love or simply getting up in the morning.

'It could be that some people who are no longer working - or who are retired - do not get these short bursts of adrenaline released on a regular basis,' she says.

If people are not getting an adrenaline buzz they can look elsewhere for this kind of stimulus. Some people may turn to artificial stimulants such as alcohol, sugary foods or smoking - all of which have the ability to mimic adrenaline.

But people who are experiencing a 'natural high' on a daily basis are likely to feel good about themselves and this sense of achievement can prevent them from feeling down spirited and turning to sources of addiction such as sugary foods and alcohol.

It sounds strange but some research shows that workers who feel under pressure could actually be doing themselves a favour because it makes them live longer.

A study carried out at the University of Texas reveals that those workers who face few pressures and have little control over their jobs are up to 50 per cent more likely to die within ten years of quitting work than the people who took major responsibilities.
Psychologists have long suspected that having a satisfying job with a degree of responsibility is good for both physical and mental health.
The Texas researchers analysed the jobs and working conditions of adults from more than 5,000 households who took part in a survey that began in the late 1960s and lasted nearly 25 years.

Jobs were classified according to decision-making opportunities, psychological demands and security. The survey also took into account whether the work involved physical activity and employees had support from managers.
After allowing for other factors that could lead to premature death such as poverty, poor health and other sources of stress, the researchers matched up the employment data to death rates.

The results, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, reveal that having a job which involves repetitive tasks and carries virtually no control or responsibility dramatically increases the risk of dying at a younger age.
'The lack of control in a job substantially increased the hazard of death,' say the researchers. 'Spending a working life in a job with low control increases a person's chance of death by 43 per cent to 50 per cent.'

It remains unclear exactly how poor job satisfaction could be harmful to health.

But the researchers suggest it could encourage high-risk behaviour - such as alcohol or drug abuse - outside work to compensate.
Some experts believe having an unrewarding job can also create a different kind of stress which, in turn, suppresses the immune system, increasing the risk of ill health.

Having a job or status in life can do much for our self esteem and sense of worth which explains why people get depressed when they lose their job or retire, says stress counsellor Liz Tucker.

'Making a contribution to society through our work makes us feel useful and valuable to our community which, in turn, improves our state of mind,' she says.

Tucker believes that human beings are designed to have a purpose in life so that they can fit neatly into society. This makes us feel secure and confident, raising our self worth.

'When people stop working, they can feel useless and redundant which can knock their confidence and lead them to spiral into depression,' she says.

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