Being President Is Dangerous, and Not for the Reasons You Think
Job stress takes a toll on your body. Here are 6 ways to cope
Being president can be hazardous to your health.
For a new study in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at historical records for 17 countries and compared the longevity of heads of state with runners-up in each election. They found people who served as heads of government lived 2.7 years less than those who didn't get the job. The leaders who became president also had a 20 percent higher rate of premature death.
Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and the lead researcher of the study, told CNN the life-shortening factors were likely stress and lack of time to maintain healthy habits.
High-ranking government officials aren’t the only ones with job stress, of course. Many of us get stressed out over work, which can take a physical and emotional toll, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
Constantly worrying about your job can lead to erratic eating habits and not enough exercise, resulting in weight gain, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, the APA says. And common stressors such as low pay, long hours or a hostile environment can accelerate the onset of heart disease. Job stress also can lead to burnout, which in turn can cause depression.
Related: Quiz: Can You Spot a Toxic Coworker?
The APA and the Mayo Clinic suggest these strategies to manage stress and stay healthy on the job:
Take advantage of break time. Even 10 minutes away from your desk can help you feel better. Take a walk or just sit and breathe.
Get other points of view. Talk about a problem that's stressing you out with a trusted coworker or friend. He or she may provide insights or offer advice that can help ease your mind.
If you’re angry, walk away. Take a moment to regroup and count to 10. Exercise also can help you blow off steam.
Set reasonable standards. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or anyone else. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your employer about your job description and responsibilities.
Use your time off. Whether it’s a sick day, an occasional long weekend or a vacation, take time off away from work when you can.
If none of that works, contact a mental health provider, the Mayo Clinic suggests. Your employer may provide one through an employee assistance plan. You also can find one through your health insurance provider.