Why Long Working Hours Are So Destructive
The average British employee works around 45 to 48 hours a week. Working overtime has become a symbol of our work life. Indeed, not only do we willingly agree to work longer hours, but it’s been so completely integrated into our mindset that recruiters frown when someone doesn’t want to extend their commitment past the contracted 40 or so hours.
The truth about working long hours is that most people don’t have a choice. Ultimately, the work needs to be done – therefore, it’s expected from employees to adopt a "work hard" attitude. Additionally, in times of professional growth, hard workers hope to get noticed and land a promotion. But while the habit of making the office your primary home might be paying off when it comes to your career, it’s worth noting that the impact on your health – both mental and physical – is less than favourable. While long working hours are a frequent occurrence, it’s fair to say that they’re unlikely to make you stand out in the workplace. Therefore, it’s time to take a step back and consider how overtime is wrecking your chances of success.
The office is a hectic environment in its own right. However, willingly agreeing to spend more time than necessary in a fast-paced and conflicting space can dramatically increase your stress levels. You need time to relax and cool down to alleviate stress. However, when the majority of your working hours are spent in the office, there is no cooldown option available. You can’t ùentally extract yourself from the workplace, which means that you’re likely to carry your stress and work-related worries around. Unfortunately, long-term stress can have a variety of unpleasant health issues. Acid reflux, for instance, is one of those unpopular health complaints, that can be triggered by stress. While it is perfectly manageable – you can find that heartburn treatments are available online – it’s something you should worry about when it turns into a regular occurrence. Other incidental issues related to stress can be headaches, rashes, and even acne outbreaks. Ultimately, when you find yourself trying to manage recurring problems, it’s time to consider cutting down your working hours.
They increase your stress levels
Seriously, it’s exhausting, and it shows
The main problem when you work long hours is that you’ve got significantly less time to rest. Rest, as it happens, is paramount to your health. Sure, you can cheat and look fresh and rested by getting rid of the bags under your eyes, but it’s not going to address the real issue. Lack of sleep doesn’t only affect your looks. Your body uses your rest time to maintain its functions. Unfortunately, tiredness can, in the long term, weaken your immune system – as your body can’t maintain it any longer. You become more vulnerable to germs and infections. Additionally, your body’s healing abilities slow down so that a simple papercut could lead to a threatening septic reaction. Additionally, your mind finds it tricky to follow one clear line of thoughts. You experience brain fog, as a result of mental exhaustion, which can affect your reactions.
Can you stay focused on the same task for hours? Experts believe that the human mind needs regular breaks to perform. Indeed, while a cup of coffee can help you stay alert, it doesn’t replace peace and rest. As a result, the longer you sit at your desk, the less you work. Therefore, more and more companies around the world are considering rethinking their working hours. The reason is that you need to refresh your mind regularly to stay on top of your abilities. Something as simple as taking a quick walk to the office kitchen, making a fresh cup of coffee which you can enjoy AWAY from the desk gives you just enough time to recharge your batteries. If you forbid yourself regular breaks, you’re going to experience brain fog, loss of creativity, and, more importantly, your work is going to get worse. In the long term, you’ll feel forced to stay longer hours to make up for it. In short, if you want a stress-free day, you need to take a break.
The more you work, the worse you get
Does your career cut you off from your life?
Working long hours doesn’t just put your physical health at risk. It also threatens your mental health. The longer you spend in the workplace, the more difficult it is for you to maintain a work/life balance.When every day is a succession of commutes and work-related queries, you can begin to feel an existential crisis building up. You need more to life than the office to feel whole. You are a person with your passions, interests and social circle. However, overtime can reduce your sense of self to the person sitting at the desk. While life shouldn’t be all about the office, more often than not, long working days erase everything unique about people to reduce them to the role of employees.
Here’s an interesting figure for you: £32 billion. It’s how much the TUC estimates businesses save in unpaid overtime. Is unpaid overtime illegal? Unfortunately, unless explicitly contracted, the extra hours you put at your desk don’t have to be honoured by your employer. As a result, you’re not only working harder, but you’re also doing it entirely for free. What is more worrying is that fact that overtime affects your health and can lead to increased medical costs to handle the lasting effects of chronic stress.
You’re basically working for free
It reinforces loneliness
Sitting at your desk all day is unhealthy on a variety of levels. But, as overtime becomes a routine, you can find yourself surrounded by people who go through the day just like you. As a result, stressed employees can feel lonely in the workplace as they don’t have enough time to establish personal connections. The grind of day-to-day work isolates you, not only from your peers but also from your friends and family. Social isolation is the leading cause of suicide among young professionals. Is your career worth the risk?
Wanting to do your best work is admirable. But it can cost you your health. Long working hours create a constant, elevated stress level, which weakens your immune system and leads to recurring health complaints. Additionally, overtime also affects your mental health, disrupting your productivity with loneliness, financial worries, and existential doubts.