In society today, working hard is valued. However, working too hard can have severe effects on mental health – from causing stress to becoming an unhealthy coping skill for avoiding problems. This article explains why you should not prioritize your work over your own mental health.
Why People Tend To Overwork
It is true that other countries have shorter work hours than the U.S., as well as shorter vacation times. Furthermore, you might also need to work longer hours because of what your job or living expenses require. Jobs such as surgeons, front-line workers, and business people in higher positions often have long hours with little time for breaks. While these hours are a requirement in some cases, it is still important to consider how overworking can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
It is also common to use working as a way to distract from your problems. You then can develop a work addiction. Your entire life may revolve around your job, leaving you little time for socialization, exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. Whether you overwork due to obligation, or because of problems in your life, it is important to address how overworking negatively affects your life before you reach a breaking point.
How Overworking Harms You
Overworking and Its Impact on the Body
When you overwork, stress develops as an initial side effect. You might feel stressed about your workload, reaching deadlines, producing quality work, and whether or not you might face repercussions if your work is not satisfactory. All of this can compile, causing extreme stress and leading to a number of physical problems. Stress can cause:
High blood pressure
Suppressed immune systems
Change in sex drive
Additionally, overworking can impact your habits. When you are overworked, you do not have time to do the things that are good for your body, such as eating well, getting exercise, relaxing, and getting enough sleep. Being unable to care for yourself physically can be detrimental in the long term, and can even lead to a shortened lifespan.
Overworking and Its Impact on Mental Health
Stress and neglected physical needs impact your mental health on their own. Overworking can directly cause those things. Stress can lead to increased anxiety, anger, irritability, lack of focus, depression, and restlessness. Neglected physical needs can also lead to depression, and even feed into stress, creating a vicious cycle. If you are overworked, you also might not have time for social activities, pursuing hobbies, or slowing down to stay in the moment. These can negatively affect your mental health, as well as lead to isolation and burnout.
Healthier Alternatives to Overworking
While in some cases, you might not be able to choose your workload, it is important to consider ways you can take care of yourself, de-stress, and enjoy life. The most common advice tends to be “maintaining a work-life balance,” which is easier said than done and tends to come across as an unrealistic response. Sometimes you have schedules that cannot be split evenly. What is important is to take advantage of the time you do have outside of work, even if it is only a little bit.
Take Advantage of Breaks
Do not skip breaks or work while you are supposed to be on “break.” You might skip breaks if you have a lot of work to do. During your lunch break, you might eat at your desk. You also might work longer hours to get work done, which takes time away from your personal time. Use your break time to decompress, relax, or take care of your needs. You might think that ignoring these break times will help you be more productive, but skipping breaks only hurts productivity.
Get Enough Sleep
By overworking, you can hurt your sleep schedule. Shortening sleep time, sleeping with an odd schedule, or forgoing sleep can hurt your job performance. Your body needs sleep to function better. During sleep, your body is resting. REM cycles heal your body and store memories for later.
Eat Healthy Foods
Good nutrition practices can have a positive impact on your mental and physical help. Those who are overworked might skip meals, eat unhealthy convenience foods, or eat too fast. Take your time while eating for lunch breaks and make sure that you are eating enough food. Prioritize healthier alternatives over-processed foods that are high in sugar.
Be Physically Active Daily
Daily exercise can decrease stress, lower blood pressure, elevate mood and increase appetite. Physical activity is especially important if you work a desk job and are not able to move around much during the day. You only need to take thirty minutes every day to see positive results. Set aside time for vigorous activity. Make sure to choose exercises that you can physically do to ensure safety. What is considered vigorous activity depends on how active you normally are. Walking fast might be vigorous if you live a sedentary lifestyle. As your body becomes more in shape, you can increase the intensity of the workout.
Address Life Problems
Sometimes you might overwork as a way to avoid or escape your problems. You might overwork as a way to avoid symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Excessive working does not make problems disappear and instead can make these problems worse. Alternatives to avoiding these problems could include talking to a trusted friend, confronting your problems, or talking to a therapist or a counselor who can help you solve these problems or offer advice.