Monday, July 27, 2009

Is Your Work Worth Dying For?

The other evening, I watched a fascinating lecture on UCTV, the television channel that broadcasts lectures from the University of California. The particular lecture I was watching was one given by Laura A. Schmidt, titled Health in America: Whats Health Reform Got to Do with It? In it, Dr. Schmidt discusses the sociological dynamics of healthcare, and identifies something that has long been asserted by career development professionals. She suggests that the less autonomy people have at work, the more stress they tend to experience in life. And the more stress one experiences, the more likely they are to also experience the most damaging health care problems experienced by Americans. Her point was effectively made by graphs showing the incidence of major health problems correlated with social status. Those who are marginalized or who have lower status were more susceptible to health ailments, while those who have the greatest amount of control in their work had the least health problem incidence.
Though her points were made to influence how the United States approaches health care policy, they make an equally compelling statement about the workforce of the country. Is it really worth it to stay in a job that has you so stressed out that you are miserable? If you consider how EXPENSIVE health care is in its present state, and how a job where you do not feel empowered with autonomy or competent enough to feel like you are effective can be harmful to your health or even kill you, is it worth it?
How much control and autonomy do you have at your work? Are your daily tasks the kinds of tasks that you are good at, that you enjoy doing? If you are lacking in your work in either regard, take a moment to consider how your job is impacting your health. Does your job leave you feeling so drained that you are not motivated to exercise? Is it so stressful that you resort to not-so-healthy practices like binge eating, eating high-fat or high-sugary foods, drinking to excess, or using other harmful drugs? If so, strive for something better and work towards it. Work that makes you feel good about yourself will probably motivate you to also take better care of your health. So when you do this, I imagine, you are taking a step toward healthy living, and you might be more naturally inclined to be healthy in more areas in your life. Imagine if everyone loved their jobs. If that were the case, perhaps there would be no need for health care reform, because there would be no crisis in health costs to begin with.

No comments: