The Side Effects of Working Too Much: What to Watch For
Joey McDowell is an experienced writer and editor originally from the Dallas area. A firm believer in a well-balanced lifestyle, Joey applies this forward-thinking approach as the editor-in-chief of The Idea Trader. He travels extensively to find compelling stories and insightful individuals.
A strong work ethic is important when it comes to finding success in your career path. This sense of responsibility and commitment to your professional career can help you climb the corporate ladder and be recognized for your hard work.
But as we all know, there are plenty of times when we focus just a bit too much on our work, and as a result, focus less and less on our home lives and the world around us.
The side effects of working too much can also include physical health problems that arise as the result of stress and insufficient rest.
We’d like to explore just a few of the negative consequences of dedicating most of your time and thought to your career.
If you can relate to several of these effects, then it may be time to sit back and take another look at your professional priorities.
You may also want to try these stress relief activities in the office to help gain a better perspective of your situation.
Damage to Personal Relationships
Working too much often means putting in long hours. Even if you’re not in the office 7 days a week, you may notice that your thoughts are starting to focus more and more on what you’ll need to get done once you are back in the office.
Often times, one of the first negative effects of putting in such long hours is the disintegration of your personal relationships.
Working too much can have an adverse effect on how you see your co-workers and how your co-workers see you.
Petty responses such as jealousy can arise, but so can larger social problems.
Even if you’re busy, you should make an effort to maintain your workplace friendships. Say hello to everyone, ask about their day.
It’s a small gesture, but it can help you stay friendly with your co-workers and prevent unnecessary drama.
Your personal relationships can also suffer the consequences of devoting too much of your time to your career.
You may find that friends and family members have stopped expecting you to attend important events or spend your free time with them.
And while this may not immediately lead to major arguments and disagreements, it will contribute to the likelihood of future arguments.
Each of your relationships is like a plant, in need of care and attention. And without that care and attention, a relationship can wither away.
Physical Health Problems
Apart from the emotional impact that working too much can have on a person, there are also a number of physical health problems that can arise.
After all, maintaining your own health requires a great deal of work and time, and if there’s no room in the schedule, then you’re likely to experience one or more of the following conditions.
Above all else, working too much can contribute to fatigue. It doesn’t matter whether your job is physically demanding or not.
Even working an office job for longer than eight hours a day can cause both physical and mental fatigue.
This is largely because stress has both psychological and physical effects. Work can cause your muscles to tense. Therefore, working for long stretches without adequate rest can result in feeling like you’ve been carrying a heavy backpack all day.
Anxiety and Depression
As a result of the conditions listed above, you may start to feel increasingly anxious or even depressed in your day-to-day life.
These are often the result of misplaced priorities or a failure to take care of yourself.
Also, if you attach your self-worth to your job and your job doesn’t happen to be going well at the moment, you’ll likely feel depressed as a reflex, since you don’t have any alternate source of joy or self-confidence.
Lack of Interest in Your Work
There are also ways in which working too hard can have counterintuitive effects on your job performance.
It may seem at first like the best thing to do to be noticed at your place of work is to put in as much time as possible and show your superiors that you’re working hard to get as much done as possible.
But if you’re not getting enough sleep or letting yourself think about anything besides work, you may start to lose interest in your work very quickly.
You may even find over time that you don’t enjoy the work at all and would like to switch careers, in which case all your long days will have been a waste.
That’s why it’s so important to step back from your job on a regular basis and examine the role it plays in your life. Are your career goals so important that you’re willing to sacrifice your mental and physical wellbeing?
In most cases, the answer should be a resounding no.
A Blurring of Your Sense of Self
Let’s face it: unless you’re running your own company, a job is about doing work that will benefit someone else.
From a leadership perspective, it benefits the company to pay employees as little as possible for their work, as it increases the possibility of profits.
Before dedicating the majority of your time to your work, as yourself whether you truly believe in the work and whether you would be proud to think back on this job 20 or 30 years from now.
If you find that your identity is largely based around your career, then it may be time to look into hobbies and other areas of interest where you can put in some time.
Only Seeing Value in Work and Career
The most advanced state of working too much and dedicating too much time to your career is the permanent mindset that work and career are the most important aspects of life.
And of course, if you truly believe this to be correct, you’re more than welcome to dedicate your life to your work.
Many people have done this throughout the course of history.
But for many of us, there are other areas of life that should take precedence over work, always. These areas could be family, romance, charity work, artistic pursuits, or even religious devotion.
It all starts with taking the time to ask yourself what you truly care about, and what you want to spend your life doing.