Let’s stop glorifying overworking


Overworking has negative impacts on all areas of your life, so why is it that dedicating 80+ hours a week is seen as heroic? More dedicated? More successful? Bragging about the extra-long hours spent in the office, packed schedules and 5am wake up calls to fit a workout, yoga routine and green smoothie in before work starts can be seen all over the internet… but in reality, is this way of life a healthy one?

Glorifying overworking is damaging in many ways, for those that are pushing themselves to their limits it is most certainly going to lead to burnout, and for those that aren’t living to work, it casts feelings of doubt and uncertainty about whether they’re seen to be as dedicated or valuable as an employee. Whether people really are achieving these crazy schedules or whether it’s just an inauthentic representation of a working week, the perception that we should be living our working lives like that is unhealthy on so many levels. 

What does the science say?

Studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours a night can produce enough cognitive issues to equate to two nights sleep of deprivation. Another showed that people who slept four hours a night for a week had increased levels of stress hormones, high blood pressure and fewer antibodies to combat illness. There is a reason why sleep deprivation has often been documented as a torture tool. 

It is advocated that eight hours of sleep at a minimum should be achieved to feel properly rested and drinking enough water to stay hydrated and alert throughout the day. It goes without saying that we should take regular breaks (particularly from screens), stretch our legs outdoors if possible, take our full lunch break and leave time to prepare three meals a day to sustain our needs. Spending your time looking after yourself rather than obsessing over cramming in as many working hours as you can each week will leave you feeling much more productive and ready to face each working day. 

What is burnout?

Burnout has been recognised as a legitimate medical condition by the WHO as of May 2019. They describe it as a medical syndrome that stems from chronic workplace stress that an employee manages unsuccessfully. 

How to recognise burnout

Burnout is gradual which is why for many people it creep up on them out of the blue. Here are some of the signs to watch out for:

1. Physical Health Issues – If you’re feeling tired and drained, your appetite has diminished, you’re feeling stressed and are finding yourself run down and poorly… it’s a good sign that you could be suffering from burnout. 

2. Emotions – Burnout can have you feeling more irritable, lacking motivation, unable to focus and feeling teary and/or emotional. 

3. Behaviour – You could be finding yourself distancing yourself from people, turning to alcohol to block out a bad day and other changes in behaviour when suffering from burnout. 

In summary, it’s really important that we stop glorifying overworking. The focus should be on a healthy work/life balance meaning that you can be more productive, efficient and well-functioning as a person as well as an employee in day to day life. 




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