“The grind never stops” has been a common phrase in the last few years. There seems to be a social pressure to be constantly working harder and be the most productive and efficient person you can possibly be.
And if you’re not working, you’re expected to always be learning something new, practicing a new skill, or working out in the gym.
The commitment to long hours of hard work to be successful has been widely celebrated, however, the idolization of workaholism actually has adverse mental and physical health effects.
In this article, we talk about the dangers and downsides of overworking, what you can do to regain some work-life balance, and some practices you can do to enhance rest and improve your health.
Health Effects of Working Too Much
In some industries and careers, it seems that those seen as heroes are the ones that always go the extra mile in their work (and even in certain aspects of life), despite the negative effects of overworking can have on one’s health, happiness, and overall quality of life.
To make matters worse, because more and more companies are embracing remote work, the lines between the end of the work day and the start of personal time can get even blurrier.
There are tons of research studies that show how overworking can lead to many health problems. A recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization shows that working more than 55 hours a week can have negative effects on your health.
Burnout is a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress and is characterized by 3 main dimensions, which are: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional efficacy.
Put simply: if you feel exhausted and irritable, start to hate your job, and feel less capable at work (when even simple tasks feel overwhelming), you are showing signs of burnout.
Burnout is caused mainly by stress from your job, but it could get exacerbated by your overall lifestyle. Perfectionism and pessimism, for example, are personality traits and thought patterns that might contribute to this stress.
With burnout, you may:
- take a longer time to complete tasks
- Procrastinate or avoid work altogether
- Make more mistakes when doing tasks
- Lose interest in parts of the job you used to really enjoy
- Feel more anxious or depressed
- Feel less able to listen to or care for other
If you’re charging through the workday for long periods of time, it’s extremely difficult to quiet your mind during bedtime. Poor sleep doesn’t just make you irritable. It decreases productivity while increasing your risk for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Lack of sleep and large amounts of stress can lead to serious health complications, such as high blood pressure, unhealthy eating, and other actions that negatively impact health. In fact, a study by Stanford and Harvard business schools found that working long hours can increase mortality by nearly 20 percent.
Working too much can take a toll on your mental health. One study found that workers who logged 11 hours per day were more likely to battle depression than those who worked seven to eight hours.
Although you may not notice it, work stress can release the hormone cortisol, which is hard on your heart. This in turn can increase your risk for stroke, heart disease, headaches, muscle pains, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
When you’re working longer hours, you’re sitting in the same position for an extended period, causing muscle tension and soreness.
A study from the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Journal found that the more hours people worked, the greater their risk for back pain.
How to Break Away from Hustle Culture
It can be incredibly challenging to slow down and create new habits for yourself, but this list can help guide you in the right direction.
Start practicing mindfulness
Start slow and simple with routines such as taking deep breaths throughout the day, short meditations, or a cup of tea at night. These practices are all great ways to pause and connect to our body, stopping the grind in its tracks.
Whether you work a 9-5 or own a business, you need clear start and end times along with rest. Set boundaries at work by doing things like establishing a reasonable end-time for your workday, saying no to tasks you don’t have the resources for (or that you shouldn’t be doing), communicating your needs honestly and clearly, and accepting the fact that you can’t please everyone.
Evaluate your habits
While early mornings may be a prime creative time for some, you might be the type of person that works better at night. Each of us is unique, and there’s no cookie-cutter daily schedule that’s a surefire way to success.
Prioritize rest and recovery
Our body and mind need a break and proper sleep to function at their best. Rest and relaxation help us to recover before we reach burnout.
Acknowledge what’s important to you
Clarify your goals and write them down. Take a few minutes to reflect: Are your intentions aligned with your ‘why’?
Look at which tasks you like doing and actually make the biggest impact in your life.
“Take some time to ask yourself, ‘What 20% of my actions give 80% of my results?’ Once you know that, you can focus on giving 110% on those important things and then give less energy to the other tasks.”
Define what “success” looks like to you
“What does success look like for you in your career, family life, and other areas of your life?” Basing your ideal lifestyle on what is truly aligned for you (rather than what you see on social media) may help to take the pressure off.
Try red light therapy
Red light therapy also referred to as photobiomodulation and low-level light therapy (LLLT), is an innovative biohacking technique that uses red and near-infrared light to supercharge your cells and, as a result, boost overall health and wellness.
The term “red light” includes wavelengths of red and near-infrared (NIR) light. The main difference between them is that NIR wavelengths are longer and penetrate much deeper into the skin than red light.
When red and NIR light is absorbed into the skin, it affects the body’s cellular health, improving an individual’s health and life expectancy from the cellular level.
The benefits of red light on health and wellbeing are supported by the results of countless scientific studies. The main benefits of red light therapy (RLT) include:
- Healthier skin
- Faster muscle recovery
- Pain relief and less inflammation
- Balanced hormonal production
- Hair regrowth
- Weight loss
When you incorporate red-light therapy into your life, along with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle such as circadian rhythm optimization, a nutritious diet, proper sleep, exercise, and stress reduction, you can keep your cellular energy production and your immune system working at an optimal level. This will help your body to respond more effectively to viral and bacterial threats.
In essence, red light therapy bio hacks the body, providing it with multiple healing properties which will extend your life.
Sample Application: How to Use RLT for Relaxation
Are you ready to light hack your life, perform better, and be at the top of your game? Then check out our red-light therapy devices on luminousred.com!