Workplace Financial Stress: A Major Cause of Health Problems

With the economy still on shaky ground, many employees are understandably worried about their jobs and their finances.

Unfortunately, stressing over work and money ends up being costly to our overall health. A recent study found that some types of stress are even more damaging than others, with financial stress yielding the most unhealthy dividends.

According to a recent Rodale article, people who had experienced a great deal of financial or work-related stress in their lives were much more likely to show clinical signs of metabolic syndrome.

So what is metabolic syndrome? It is actually a combination of medical disorders that increase the risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Conditions that make up metabolic syndrome include insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and obesity.

I look around at my friends and family members that are having a rough time financially, and I can see how their stress is bad for their health. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Americans today show signs of metabolic syndrome.

Article Continues Below

Some say the problems are “all in your head” and actually they are right! Stressful events cause your body to release cortisol, a hormone that sends a signal to your brain to store body fat and makes you feel hungrier, which can then cause obesity.

Here’s some tips from Rodale advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Rossman, PhD that you can pass on to your employees:

  1. Be realistic about your finances. Help employees realize where they stand by offering a financial wellness assessment, or provide on-site financial counseling sessions as an employee perk.
  2. Stay positive and in control at work. Create a relaxing break area that employees can go to de-stress and encourage meditation or power naps, since sleep is a legitimate stress reducer. A quick nap can actually make your employees more productive, so nap-time isn’t just for toddlers.
  3. Incorporate healthy foods and exercise into each day. Encourage employees to walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or hand out pedometers to your workforce. According to the American Medical Association, walking has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise. Stock the break room with seasonal fruits and veggies since employees facing financial difficulties usually cut back on their own fresh produce purchases.

This was originally published on the Financial Finesse blog for Workplace Financial Planning and Education.

Linda Robertson is an experienced financial planner with, the nation’s leading provider of unbiased financial education programs to corporations, credit unions and municipalities with over 400 clients across the country. Her focus is on retirement and tax planning, and her background includes positions with NationsBank, H & R Block, and Metropolitan Life. Contact her at .