WORK-LIFE BALANCE / AUG. 24, 2015
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Why Working Long Hours Is Really Bad for You

A funny thing happens when we get really into our careers and finally find a job that we absolutely love: we end up working long hours. Really, really long hours. This is more prominent in certain industries like law or journalism that are incredibly demanding of their employees. Sometimes it can be difficult to force yourself to leave at 5 or 6 p.m. when everyone around you is burning the midnight oil - the pressure to work just as hard and long can be like a drug or an addiction. But we weren’t born to work without any play or fun at all. Read on to find out why working long hours is really bad for you and why you need to have a better work life balance.

See Also: 10 Signs Your Job is Taking Over Your Life

Your risk of heart problems goes way up

Guess what: you simply can’t work super long hours and expect to remain 100 percent healthy. The American Journal of Epidemiology studied employees in the United States and discovered that a number of health issues are the direct result of logging long hours at your office desk. Specifically, you are 67 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or another form of heart issue when clocking in for 11 hours or more a day. If you keep putting in these hours, in the future you won’t be able to work at all, so it’s something worth thinking about.

You will have zero work/life balance

As a society, we’re already pretty imbalanced when it comes to figuring out that classic struggle between work and personal life. Working too hard and long and not giving yourself any time off to rest, relax and recharge is incredibly bad for you. Your body and mind will be constantly exhausted, and you will be pushing yourself to the brink. You will never feel truly happy or calm because you’ll feel like work is your entire life and you have absolutely nothing else.

No matter how much you love what you do or how satisfied you are with your job, you need other activities to live a happy, healthy life. Simply taking some time to exercise, do the activities that matter the most to you (whether that’s going to a movie every week or reading several books a month), and spending some time with friends and family can make a huge difference. It’s a classic question for a reason. We’re always trying to fix our work/life balance so it favors the life part of the equation because it’s that important to our health.

You will be in a constant state of stress

There’s a reason you feel super relaxed and chilled out after taking a weekend off or spending a week lying on a beach somewhere and reading. You’ve given your body and your mind the time that they desperately need to get yourself back into a normal, calm state. Now think about how you feel after even a day of working long hours -- and then extend it to a week or even a month. It’s a pretty stark difference, right? There’s no comparison between relaxing and working longer than you should.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, a sizable amount of those living in the U.K. -- 13 percent -- experience work weeks of 49 hours or more.

Your personal life will decline

The majority of those surveyed by the foundation mentioned above found that putting in such lengthy hours at the office resulted in a decline in their relationships. This makes sense: you won’t have any time to spend with those you love, and when you finally do get to see them for an hour or so, you’ll have no energy to fully enjoy it or really connect with them. We need bonds and relationships in order to live full and meaningful lives, and you won’t be able to have those if you work too much.

You could face major mental health problems

Depression and anxiety are only two of the major mental health issues that can result from work-related stress. No matter how great your job is and how much fun you have during your 9-to-5, you can’t possibly escape the potential for developing depressive or anxious symptoms. You’re not a superhuman (no one is), even if you think you are.

Your general health will suffer

People who live a healthy lifestyle have several things in common and do several similar things. They eat well and follow a balanced diet of lean protein, vegetables and fruit, carbohydrates that are usually whole grains, and moderate alcohol and sugar intake. They’ve found an exercise program that they adore and that they actually follow. And they also make it a priority to get enough sleep.

If you’re working super long hours, you’re not going to be able to do any of those things. You won’t have the time or the energy. Instead, you’ll be relying on take-out pizza delivered to the office and junk food straight from the vending machine. You’ll most likely drink way too much caffeine that will make you feel even more nervous and anxious, and candy bars will probably become a staple of your new diet. And it won’t be your fault: it’s impossible to stick to a healthy eating plan when we’re tired, work too hard and there’s no end in sight to the long hours.

Your work will get sloppy

A funny thing happens when we’re working too much. We tend to make mistakes. We can’t help it -- we’re just that exhausted. And exhaustion is no joke. Besides minor errors like misspelling an important client’s name on an email or making several typos in a document, we can make major mistakes like saying what we’re thinking to our boss’ face without having the mental capacity to think before we speak.

Your work will suffer the more tired you get and the longer the hours you work. Your boss will wonder what’s going on and why you’re turning in subpar assignments, but it’s just not realistic to expect to work super hard and super long hours without a single break.

You will be unmotivated and uninspired

Weekends and weeknights are important times, even if you think that taking time away from the office is a waste of your time. Of course, you’re super ambitious -- you wouldn’t have that killer job and all those responsibilities if you weren’t. But, without time off and if the only view you see is the one from your office window (if you even have one -- maybe you’re in a depressing cubicle at work), you’re not going to have any motivation or inspiration.

You need time off to get your mojo back and remember why you love what you do in the first place. You want time to miss your job, essentially. It’s exactly like when you’re in a new relationship, and you see your new partner 24/7. After a while, you want to be able to spend some time apart exploring your own interests so you can feel like your own person again and have the time to miss their company. Don’t become married to your job -- you will forget why you accepted your job in the first place.

See Also: How to Embrace Your Exhaustion at Work

Think that you can work 24/7, 7 days a week, still love your job and do amazing work? Think again. All these points show why working long hours is horrible for you, your health and your chance at happiness.

Do you work long hours on a regular basis? Do you think it is bad for you?

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