Hopefully, everyone has heard about the negative effects that stress can have on your quality of life. Still, most people underestimate the impact their job’s work stress has on their health, especially if that job is not necessarily physically demanding. Studies have shown us that even jobs that require minimal physical exertion can still lead to negative effects on your body. One of those studies, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, shows us the correlation between the amount of a person’s job related stress, or “subjective mental workload” (SMWL), and an increase in the likelihood of them experiencing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The study was recently conducted on a group of bank employees and here are some of the specifics of the study:
- The authors explain that the subjective mental workload “refers to the amount of effort done by the mind during an individual function and is basically related to an individual’s mental capacity.” SMWL consists of two components: work stress due to an occupation’s demands and the effects of work strain due to tension of a duty’s demands.
- SMWL was calculated based on a weighted average for six subscales: mental demands, physical demands, temporal demands, performance, effort and frustration.
- Musculoskeletal disorders were defined as “aches, pains and discomfort due to inflammatory and degenerative conditions affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves in the spine and extremities.”
- Pain was measured in 9 areas of the body: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, upper back, lower back, hips/thighs, knees and ankle/feet.
The information showed that nearly 80% of bank employees experienced MSD in at least one region within the last year with neck and back pain being the most common complaints. Some interesting statistics told us that the likelihood of MSDs was 4.5 times higher for married employees as opposed to single employees and the odds of MSDs occurring in patients with more than 10 years of experience are 3 times higher than employees with less experience. Perhaps the most important statistic is the finding that the odds of MSDs increased by 11% with each single point increase of employees subjective mental workload!
This study absolutely shows that stress can be negatively affecting your health and well being more than you think! Just because your job isn’t manual labor or physically demanding does not mean that your work doesn’t affect your health. You are hopefully already paying attention to ergonomics around the workplace but you need to pay attention to your stressors at work and find ways to minimize them, your body will thank you!!