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Image by Freedom to Exist for a feature on overworking


However, we also believe that looking after your health is more important than any deadline, which is why we’re sharing a few tips on looking after yourself no matter how busy things get…

Living in the city, it’s certainly not uncommon to see people working a lot more than they ideally should. Regular overtime, graveyard shifts, moonlighting, there is a lot people will do to earn a little much-need extra money. However, besides being an unpleasant proposition, the truth is that overworking can genuinely put you in danger. Here, we’re going to look at the health and lifestyle risks that can arise from a life of overwork and why you really ought to avoid it at all costs.

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It doesn’t really make you better at your job

Let’s look at one of the common misconceptions and one of the practical problems of overworking, though it’s not quite as important as the other risks, once in perspective. Many people overwork to help achieve their work goals or make a good impression in the workplace but in both ways, it can undermine those aims. Overworking has been shown to cause a net drop in productivity, meaning that even as you put in more hours, you are more likely to get less done throughout any one work week than if you just worked a regular number of hours. What’s more, it makes you more likely to be distracted and lose engagement with your role, and even makes you more prone to mistakes and errors of judgement on the job.

The risk to the heart

Now, to move onto the more pressing matters, let’s look at the many health risks that come as a result of overworking. Related to the stress of working long hours, losing sleep, and the other lifestyle impacts, there’s an inherent risk increase when it comes to diseases and conditions related to blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People who overwork have been shown studies to be both more likely to suffer a heart attack as well as a stroke. In general, there’s a 60% increased chance of heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks, and angina as well.

The mental picture

Needless to say, with the physical stress comes the emotional side of the condition as well. It’s not difficult to see how chronic stress can develop from the constant pressure to work, the lack of personal time, and the sleep disruption caused by working long hours. However, it’s not just stress you should be concerned about. Those who overwork have been shown to be significantly more prone to depression as well as severe anxiety. Stress is known to lead directly to depression if an individual is constantly exposed to it. With depression can come a whole slew of other issues, from weight gain and weight loss to suicidal ideation, all as a result of putting too many hours in at the office.

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Say goodbye to your nights

When you spend a lot more time working than you should, you tend to have less time in the day for other things. One of those other things that more and more health professionals agree shouldn’t be compromised, no matter what, is sleep. Whether it’s due to working odd hours, the increased stress, or the inconsistent schedule, people who overwork sleep a lot less. Few of them get the seven hours that they need. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your health, causing stress, back pain, weight fluctuation, severe fatigue, increased risk of chronic disease including coronary heart disease, and much more. Almost half of all professionals lose sleep, but those who overwork are more likely to experience insomnia as a progression of the problem.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms

Spending too much time in the office can affect more than just how you spend your time in the office, it can lead to drastic changes in what you do outside the office, too. People find coping mechanisms to deal with extraordinary levels of pressure and, unfortunately, the most accessible coping mechanisms are rarely the healthiest. Many who overwork smoke as a result, and more can turn to alcohol abuse, including as a way to self-medicate and help sleep at night. In larger cities in particular, there is an even more serious risk of becoming addicted to cocaine. Studies have shown that this drug, in particular, is a problem for those in the middle class and in urban settings. A culture of coping with cocaine and widespread availability of it in the city have lead to it becoming something of an epidemic. Many will believe that the recreation use of the drug helps them stay on top of everything, but addiction can be fatal, so curbing these unhealthy habits as soon as possible is paramount.

Getting in the way of better life choices

More than making you prone to fall into bad habits, overworking can ensure that you’re unable to fall into better ones. The more time you spend at work, the less time you have to shop and prepare meals, which means that many who overwork rely on diets on unhealthy processed foods with high levels of saturated fats, salt, and sugar. What’s more, many find it difficult to make the time for exercise, which can lead to obesity and contributes to the increased risk of heart disease, amongst other widespread effects.

Related features: Five things that will (probably) make you feel happier.

(Top image courtesy of: Freedom to Exist)

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