Stress Could Improve Your Health, According To New Study

New research has found that work stress can be beneficial for our health and reduce the risk of death. But, there is a catch...

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As many of my friends and family will know – I'm a massive stress head.

From Year 5 geography homework, imminent essay deadlines at University to scheduling an interview or running late to a meeting, the stress of work will – more often that not – result in nails bitten to a stump and the odd burst-into-tears moment before going to bed.

Stress is a part of my personality that's plagued me since childhood. With it, it has carved out a need for perfection that, admittedly, has its downfalls (I was that annoying kid in school who would kick myself for getting 98% on an essay) and advantages (working my butt off to get a good job).

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However, a new study suggests that being stressed at work isn't so bad after all. In fact, it could actually be beneficial for our health and reduce the risk of death.

Who's winning now, hey?

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But don't go celebrating just yet, my fellow worriers. Stress is only advantageous if we can exert some control over the stressful situation.

Published in the journal Personnel Psychology, researchers from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, US analysed the lives of 2,363 people in their sixties for seven years.

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Detailing findings from 2004, the study found that those in high-stress jobs who had control in situations were 34 per cent less likely to have died than those in less stressful professional roles.

However, unsurprisingly, those in high-stress jobs with less autonomy and control were found to be more unhealthy and 15.4% more likely to die earlier.

Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, the paper's lead author, said: 'These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making.

'While stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making,' he added.

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The study also found workers in high-stress jobs with low control had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those in high-stress jobs with more freedom to make their own decisions.

'When you don't have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff. You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it,' explained Gonzalez-Mulé.

Basically, life is better when we have greater freedom and more control over our work.

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So, how do we implement this at work?

Gonzalez-Mulé advises managers to allow their employees to set their own goals and give them more control over their workloads.

If you're feeling like work is getting that bit too much at the moment, have a sit down with your manager and talk through the possibility of taking back more control in your day-to-day career.

Happy stressing!

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