Find out how working too much can make you sick – and what you can do.
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, Americans worked 47 hours per week on average, and data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that more than one-third of us worked weekends. While there's nothing wrong with working late every once in a while, you don't want it to become the norm. Working too much can cost you more than just a few sleepless nights; it can sap your happiness and ruin your health. Click through to find ways your job may be hurting you -- and what you can do about it.
In a 2014 survey by the American Psychological Association of nearly 2,000 people, 60% named work as a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of stress. While some on-the-job stress can help push you to do your best, too much can make you sick. Research shows that certain factors – such as a lack of job security, working long hours or late-night shifts, unfair pay, and a lack of control over your responsibilities – can up the risk for health problems, especially for men.
Long hours can add up to more than everyday stress. A study of nearly 3,000 British workers showed that depression and anxiety shot up the more they worked, especially for women. The researchers found that women working more than 55 hours per week were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to women who worked between 35 and 40 hours per week.
Those long work hours may get you a nice raise, but they could be hurting your heart. In a 2015 meta-analysis of 25 studies, researchers found that men and women working more than 55 hours a week increased their chances of a heart attack by 13%. Workaholics also had a 33% greater risk of stroke compared with people who work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Experts don't yet fully understand why this is, but the message is clear: Watch the overtime, and leave work at the office.
It's all too common: You’re running late and have to skip breakfast, or you’re chained to your desk and can’t take time for lunch. The more you work, the more your eating habits can suffer. A 2013 study showed that people who work more than 50 hours per week were more likely to skip meals than folks who work regular hours. Besides making it all too easy to fill up on vending machine junk food, missing meals can spell trouble for your ticker: A study of nearly 27,000 men showed that those who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack compared to breakfast eaters.
If you’re go-go-going all day, you may find it difficult to slow down at night. A 2015 study found that the higher the demands of the job, the more likely you are to sleep poorly or less, which in turn means more job stress and – you guessed it - less sleep. Chronic loss of sleep can have all kinds of consequences, from snapping at your spouse to fuzzy thinking on the job, to a greater risk of accidents and heart disease.
It's not just you who suffers when you're married to your job – your friends and family do, too. A 2012 review of studies on workaholics found that people who work too much report more estrangement from their families, less effective communication with their loved ones, and rockier relationships with their children. And, those children are more frequently depressed than those with parents who have a better work-life balance.
The average American employee takes only about half of their paid vacation time, according to a 2014 poll. Men are particularly bad about it, typically taking one vacation every 12 months as opposed to every 10 months for women. But that time off at the beach -- or in your backyard -- can help your heart. In one long-term study of men with a high risk of heart disease, those who took at least one vacation a year were almost 30% less likely to die from a heart-related condition compared to those who didn't take time off.
Try these tips for getting the most out of your vacation.
Even if you can't take time away, taking short breaks throughout the day can help keep you focused and energized, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study found.
There are lots of ways to take a quick brain break and come back feeling better than ever. A brief self-massage to your face, neck and shoulders can help you feel less stressed. You can get your endorphins flowing with this quick exercise routine. Or recharge with a few deep-breathing exercises.
It is not uncommon for people to experience stress and anxiety during select periods in their lives. Having a positive attitude, taking a balanced approach to life's ups and downs, and using relaxation exercises are just some of t...he ways that people can alleviate stress and anxiety. More