Good news: Your high-pressure job may actually be improving your health.
A new study from Indiana University has found that employees in stressful positions are a third less likely to die than those with less strenuous jobs, the Daily Telegraph reports. However, there’s one important caveat: Workers need to have control of their own workflow.
Indiana University researchers studied thousands of workers in their 60s between 2004 and 2011. They found that those who had more flexibility in a stressful job were more 34% less likely to have died. Unfortunately, the study also found that those who had high-pressure jobs with little freedom were the most likely to be unhealthy and ultimately, die sooner.
Lack of control in a difficult job can result in people turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like over-eating and smoking. “When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff,” lead researcher Erik Gonzalez-Mulé told the Telegraph.
Stressful jobs that give employees the freedom to set their schedules and goals, meanwhile, force employees to problem-solve and brainstorm ways to complete their work. “Instead of being something debilitating, [they] can be something that’s energizing,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “That stress then becomes something you enjoy.”
He also said the results emphasize the need to restructure jobs to give employees more flexibility over their schedules and goals could benefit both employees and companies as a whole.
Cancer was the leading cause of death for those who participated in the study. It was followed by circulatory problems, such as heart failure, which made up 22% of causes of death, and respiratory system issues, which comprised 8% of deaths.