Many people are unhappy in their jobs, yet feel tied to it for the paycheck. Perhaps this is you or someone you know. The resulting stress caused by feeling handcuffed to one’s cubicle wrecks havoc on your health. Is the paycheck worth it? Are you spending your health to achieve it?
Are you spending your health on wealth?
Stress may show up as tight shoulders, neck, or chest. Migraines or other headaches. Stomach aches or indigestion. Erratic or rapid heart rates or chest pains. Lost sleep, little energy or food cravings. Depression or anxiety.
Left undealt with, this stress and our weak attempts at coping with it, lead to chronic health issues. All that for a paycheck and benefits. Is the physical and emotional health cost worth it?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims lifestyle-related chronic disease causes more illness and death than anything else. In the U.S., those diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths annually and account for more than 86% of the nation’s healthcare costs.
Workplace stress comes with costs upwards of 300 billion dollars per year to the U.S. economy including some 190 billion dollars in health care expenses.
Stress factors from the workplace affect health in two ways. “The physical stress on the body and the resulting poor habitual coping mechanisms, such as poor eating and drinking habits,” says Joel Goh, Harvard Business School.
But we need our jobs right? As far as I know, money still doesn’t grow on trees. So what can we do? How do you avoid spending your health on wealth?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore these questions and potential answers in a series of posts. Throughout the series, I’ll offer action steps to:
- Change the way you think about and deal with stress
- Reduce the tightness of the golden handcuffs, eventually eliminating them
- Dissolve poor stress-related eating habits and establish good ones
- Improve sleep and increase your energy level
- Experience positive feelings of freedom, joy, and peace
Today, I thought I’d share a bit of my story below (more here). You see, I was once indeed spending my health on the pursuit of wealth. But things are different now.
Spending Your Health
In the early fall of 2006, I was two years into a business venture I started with my mom. We were the proud owners of a tea house cafe and retail store in downtown Birmingham, Michigan.
Over the two years, we had grown the business to a profitable level and been named a favorite local restaurant in the local paper.
To get to that level, I worked 90-100 hours each and every week, opening and closing the doors daily with very few exceptions.
While I was elated at our accomplishments, I was also burnt out, exhausted and getting increasingly sick. Chronic migraines, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, IBS, insomnia, irritability, and more. All this in a hunt for what I perceived as the pinnacle of success and potential wealth.
The stress I experienced (and brought upon myself) impacted my life in countless ways, as well as my family’s. At times I was barely holding it together. Fortunately, that fall mom and I were approached with some unexpected but enticing business offers.
The first was from a couple who owned a tea store in a town a few miles away wanting to partner up and join companies. A young gentleman presented us with our second offer while we were mulling over the first. He wanted to purchase our business outright keeping it exactly as is.
And finally, a second couple made an offer to take over our leased space, purchase all of our equipment and supplies, as well as some inventory, but they planned to start a new and different restaurant.
Initially, the thought of ‘closing the doors’ on our business was excruciating. Eventually, I reasoned it was for the best as I experienced worsening health.
It was time to take some giant steps back so that I could recover and get myself – my life and health – back on track.
Finding Health Again
Mom and I ultimately decided to take the third offer. While the second offer was better financially, I wasn’t able to turn my dream over to someone else.
That may have been very short-sighted of me, but that’s where I was at this time. We closed our doors in mid-December, and my life took new twists and turns.
Today life is not perfect of course, but it is remarkable in many ways, and I’m happier, healthier and a bit wealthier. I’m able to experience more of what matters and view more sunrises and sunsets.
The road to better health and wellness – physically, emotionally, and financially – wasn’t always easy to navigate, but I did find the right course and arrived in greater shape.
In the 2nd post of this series, I discuss how what you think about stress matters and offer the first few action steps to avoid spending your health on wealth.
Please share in the comments below your thoughts on workplace stress? Are you in a job you dislike due to golden handcuffs? Are you experiencing stress as a result? How does it affect you?