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All That Work Stress Isn’t Helping Your Heart. Here’s How to Keep It in Check.

We’ve all been there: Emails are piling up, an overdue assignment calls, and plans to head to the gym after work fall to the wayside—again. While common, workplace stress can be extremely problematic. According to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, women whose work is highly stressful have a 40 percent increased risk of heart disease compared to their less-stressed colleagues.

While companies can’t take all of the stress out of the workplace—particularly in high-pressure fields such as law and medicine—they can create a culture that encourages healthy physical and mental habits. Corporate wellness programs, such as law firm Morgan Lewis’s ML Well initiative, offer educational health programming and opportunities to exercise, volunteer or build community in the office.

“A lot of what we’re promoting are the small things people can be doing differently that will have a large return on investment, if you will, on their well-being,” says Krista Larson, director of employee well-being at Morgan Lewis. “In most cases, investing in personal well-being isn’t going to necessitate a major life overhaul.”

Employees shouldn’t have to struggle on their own. After all, reducing stress prevents burnout, leading to less employee turnover and higher productivity—a win for all.

Beat the Stress

Get active: Starting your day with a workout or taking a lunchtime walk with a colleague not only reduces stress, but strengthens your heart and improves sleep.

Break bad habits: While smoking, stress eating or slugging endless cups of coffee may help you feel better in the moment, they compound stress in the long run.

Think positive: Studies have shown a link between having a positive outlook and health benefits such as reduced stress, lower blood pressure and less heart disease.

Founded in 1873, Morgan Lewis is a firm comprised of more than 2,300 lawyers and specialists, and a supporter of Go Red for Women. Their goal is to embed well-being into the fabric of their culture and create an environment where everyone can thrive. Learn more here.