Study reveals that if you struggle with work life balance it could lead to this devastating health issue

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Recently, Ladders reported on the current surge in entrepreneurship, staffed (amongst a good many other things), by what can be compellingly described as a new-age determination not to allow a paycheck to ration a piece of mind, namely as it regards the amount of time spent with loved ones.

For baby boomers, the wedge segregating career and family was an innate element of the workforce, for Generation X the wedge was more like a grail–ensuring no developmental opportunities were lost on its behalf (college, extra-curricular activities, etc). For Millennials and likely Generation Z after them,  work-life balance is the closest its ever been to an obstacle to be addressed as opposed to a wrangle to be conditioned to. Sadly, the outlay portions time in a grimmer sense than previously conceived.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that focuses on the health consequences associated with work-family conflict specifically observed a  unique prevalence of cardiovascular disease amongst workers that struggle to poise family time and their demanding careers. While men and women were both adversely affected by the same animations, female participants consistently evidenced the lowest cardiovascular scores.

A somatic reaction to a psychological problem

The new study was conducted by its senior author, Dr. Itamar Santos, a professor at the University of São Paulo and a researcher in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health.

Santos and his team began by recruiting 11,00 workers between the ages of 35 and 75 all of which were employed in Brazil. By reviewing questions completed by the participants, the researchers were able to determine how much work impacted each individual’s personal life. With these emotional measures in mind, the authors utilized clinical exams and laboratory results to gauge physical markers, including smoking, body mass index, diet, physical activity, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. As stated above, the participants that expressed the highest instances of work-family conflict were reliably of poor heart health’ this was especially true of women.

“This was interesting because in our previous study, job stress alone affected men and women almost equally,” Santos commented in a press statement to Heart.org. “But we found that for work-family conflict, women are more affected than men. They seem to be especially susceptible to this kind of stress.”

Several experts commenting on the study have implied the disparity owes itself to preconceived gender norms. Working women perhaps feel more guilty about their difficulty balancing work and family because of the societal standard that brands them natural caretakers.

“You feel the stress to fulfill the gender roles, and I think women still feel more of a need to have that nurturing home life,” she said. “Men are helping more than ever, but I think working women still feel the stress of trying to do it all,” said Dr Gina Price Lundberg, a preventive cardiologist in Atlanta and clinical director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center, who believes this study could go a long way in dispelling these tropes.

There are several tactical ways to appraise work-life balance, strictly as it concerns prioritizing time though not everyone can enjoy the luxury of strategizing. If you have the kind of job that permits some flexibility, consider implementing little adjustments in order to focus your life. Things like scheduling at least one meal a day to be eaten as a family, taking advantage of digital platforms to touch base with your loved ones when you can during the workday. Think about hiring a sitter and communicate your needs with your supervisor. 

All of these are well-reasoned ways to claim the core aspects of your life back, but the skirmish is ultimately a psychological one. “Being engrossed in the work” as opposed to obsessed with the career starts with an understanding of the difference between good work and meaningful work. Swearing fidelity to the precarious whim of goalposts blurs the finish line, leaving us perpetually winded and dissatisfied, both physically and emotionally. Career pressures may be ineradicable but they don’t have to be detrimental.

“We’re not going to eliminate stress,” Santos added to Health24. “But we should learn how to live with it to not have so many bad consequences.”