Stressed woman in office

Too much work

Working overtime has become the norm for most people. Unfortunately, it can have extremely negative impacts on your health, happiness and overall quality of life.

How many hours per week do you typically spend working? Do you find yourself stressed out the majority of the time and wishing that there were just more hours in the day?

If so, you’re being overworked. It’s time to start putting yourself first and your job second. We talk with experts on stress management and how being overworked can have serious health consequences.

Let’s look at the facts…

  • Those who work more than 10 hours per day have a 60 percent higher chance of a heart attack.
  • People need eight hours of sleep per night but Americans only average six and a half.
  • We’re more anxious, frustrated and impatient than ever.
  • The feeling of stress can be addicting.
Source: Tony Schwartz, "How Well Are You Managing Your Energy?"

The effects of overworking

When you’re overworked, you’re overtired. When you’re overtired, you rely more on caffeine to get you through the day, you tend to make unhealthy food choices and working out becomes a thing of the past. You become irritable, your immune system weakens and you tend to stop enjoying life. You may react negatively to your family or coworkers, leading to more stress and anxiety. Eventually, you may become depressed.

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Schedule an 'adult timeout'

Health expert Amy Jo Martin, CEO of Digital Royalty, has learned to manage stress in her life. A little more than a year ago, she had 15 back-to-back meetings and was simply in "survival mode." A thoughtful colleague saw an 8-minute window in her calendar and scheduled her an "adult timeout," or a "Ready, Set, Pause." She spent her 8 minutes relaxing and listening to a few songs. It helped her recharge, refresh and feel more productive. She now schedules a "Ready, Set, Pause" meeting daily—helping her stay calm and feel less stressed instantly.

Note: It doesn’t matter how you rest; the importance lies in the fact that you’re resting! The only rule is there can’t be any distractions — no phones, computers or outside conversations. You need to be present in the moment. Remember, sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.

Amy Jo Martin's ideas for things to do in those 8 minutes:

  • Go for a walk
  • Have a dance party
  • Do yoga poses
  • Listen to music

Tips for controlling your work schedule and not overworking

Sure, every once in a while you’re going to have to work long hours to get a project done. That’s totally fine, but it should never be the norm. To start taking control of your work life and reducing stress, use the following tips:

  • Work smarter. When working, get rid of all distractions. This includes phones, social media apps, random internet browsing and even interruptions from coworkers.
  • Take breaks. Follow Martin's advice and take 8 minutes per day for yourself, preferably more if you have time.
  • Be aware of how you spend your "off" time. Find ways to unwind that don’t involve watching television or surfing the net. Get outside, go for walks and get some fresh air.
  • Set boundaries. Know when to say "no." This includes both work and social obligations.
  • Get eight hours of sleep per night. Develop a nightly routine that ensures you’ll get your proper shut-eye. This could be as simple as taking a hot bath and reading for half an hour each night before going to sleep.
  • Reduce your bills. If you’re working overtime simply to make ends meet, try reducing some of your monthly expenses so you can work less and live more.

More on stress management

Stress management for the career gal
4 Stress-less tips for working moms
6 Simple stress-busting strategies for summer

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