When you look at photos of President Obama before his presidency and currently, there is no doubt he has aged. In fact, the historical evidence of what being the President of the United States does to speed up the aging process can be seen throughout the ages. From President Lincoln to George Bush, the aging evidence of chronic stress shows. Should the aging process be considered before you accept a job? If you knew there was a great job opportunity and it was offered to you, but you knew it would age you with the chronic stress that comes with it, would you take it? That depends on many factors all of which are personal and important to consider, because you only get one life to live.
According to Dr. Ronan Factora, specializing in geriatric medicine, the higher the level of job you have, the more stress you accumulate. Your body isn’t used to dealing with chronic stress at the levels demanded in particular careers, and the aging changes, although gradual, definitely are happening. You won’t see changes right away, but inside your body, your adrenaline is cranked up and your heart rate is more rapid, as is your blood pressure. Cortisol is secreted at higher levels leaving you with higher risk of inflammation and increasing your likelihood of putting on weight. This hormone also thins your skin, makes your muscles waste away, and promotes bone loss. Your immune system weakens and you catch colds more easily. You no longer sleep as well, you don’t concentrate as well, and you are more likely to suffer from depression.
Depending on the high level job you take, stress is a likely part of it, and unmanaged stress makes you age faster. Does your gender affect your ability to manage high level stress? Women in executive jobs report feeling stressed over their personal relationships more than men. The more responsibility you have at work, the less time you have with family and friends. Relationships are a primary way for women to build connections, and this helps decrease stress in women. Women also worry more about their looks and are discriminated more on every level regarding their appearance. Additional stress ages people, and due to time constraints, women often times choose caring for their family over taking the time for personal self-care. Guys’ stress is more centered on feeling in control and having the authority they need to make necessary changes at work. They aren’t judged as harshly as women for their weight or appearance, although it is important and many men won’t take a job if it demands time away from their family, self-care, or quality of life.
Important considerations before you climb up the corporate ladder:
- What does this job symbolize for me? It matters most what you want to give back to the world, and if you think this job will help you accomplish that.
- Who of the people I hold dearest misses out on my time if I take this job? If you feel as though your family will have to do without you in order for you to accomplish your mission or passion, is that okay with you and the whole family?
- Do I have healthy coping skills to deal with the additional stress? Nothing is worth your health, appearance or life quality. If you don’t have the ability to shut off your electronics at night for quality time with your spouse, family and/or friends, it isn’t healthy. If you don’t have time to work out, it isn’t healthy. If you won’t have time for self-care it isn’t healthy. If you don’t have time to practice your faith, it isn’t healthy. If you don’t have time to eat healthy, your body will eventually become ill.
- Expect the stress to be a part of the job, and have a plan in place before accepting the position.
Any reason is a good reason to take a job which is going to advance your career and give your family more financial security. However, there are consequences to all choices in life, so before you say, “Yes,” make sure you have a plan. We all age, but there is no reason to age before your time, because you weren’t prepared to deal with the stress the job demanded.