Do we work to live or live to work?
The UK Trades Union Congress states that “Workers in the UK currently work the longest hours in Europe, take the shortest lunch breaks and enjoy the fewest public holidays.” As many employees in the UK regularly find themselves working long hours and staying late at the office, you too may be asking yourself whether you really have a work-life balance.
Perhaps you have started eating your evening meals at work, or maybe you do not see your children before they go to sleep, perhaps you have not seen your friends in months or maybe you are finding that you do not have any time to go to the gym? It is one thing to enjoy your job but when it frequently gets in the way of your personal life, you may start to wonder why exactly you are working.
Are you spending all of your time working just to pay the mortgage for a flat/house you never spend time in, the school fees/child-care costs for children you never get to see or to buy expensive possessions that you don’t really need?
When work forces you to cancel plans with friends regularly, leaves you too tired to pursue your hobbies and affects your relationships, you have to ask yourself whether your job is getting in the way of your enjoyment of life.
Here are 10 signs that you may just be working too much:
You start to feel unhappy a lot of the time
When work is taking up a lot of your time and you feel resentful for missing out on things in your personal life, you could be seriously compromising your mental health and happiness. In fact a Canadian study conducted in 1999 demonstrated how long working hours can impact upon both mental and physical health. The study’s results showed that women who worked long hours had increased odds of subsequently experiencing depression. Moving from standard to long hours was also associated with unhealthy weight gain for men, with an increase in smoking for both men and women, and with an increase in alcohol consumption for women.
You’ve Forgotten About That Hobby You Were Passionate About
It is very easy to put that favourite hobby of yours at the bottom of your priority list when you are very busy at work. If you realise that you have suddenly completely neglected a hobby that was once a big part of your life, you may want to ask yourself whether your job is to blame.
You Keep Cancelling Plans with Friends/Family
Data collected by Investec Private Banking found that 25 per cent of professionals, including those working in finance, law, teaching and healthcare, are unhappy with their work-life balance. The data also showed that 38 per cent of Londoners believe that their family and friends view them as “workaholics”. Every now and again you may have to cancel your plans with friends/family because of an upcoming deadline/new piece of work. However if you find that you are doing this regularly, your work may end up affecting your relationships with those closest to you.
You Wake Up Every Morning Fearful/Worried
When worry, dread or over-whelming stress are the first feelings you experience every morning before going to work, you may just have too heavy a workload.
You Have Stopped Taking Care of Yourself
The Canadian study examining how long hours affected health and well-being demonstrated that those working long hours often turned to over-eating, smoking and drinking to deal with the stress of their increased workload. When you are very busy at work and chronically stressed, it can be easy to resort to eating junk food or sugary treats to give you quick bursts of energy, dosing up on caffeine and just generally neglecting your health and well-being. When you suddenly realise that you don’t look or feel as good as you used to, very often your unreasonable working patterns can be to blame.
You Lash Out At Your Friends and Family
When you are over-worked, you will often carry those stresses from the day with you into your personal life. If you start to notice that you are taking out your stress on your loved ones, it could be a sign that you should think about cutting back your working hours.
You Feel You Have Lost Control Over Your Life
When you are regularly asked to work over the weekend, are forced to cancel holiday plans and feel that you just don’t have any say over what happens in your own life, it is a big sign that your job (and the unreasonable demands of your boss) have just become too much.
You Feel Guilty for Taking a Holiday or a Day off Sick when you are actually really unwell
When you have a lot to get through at work, taking a day off sick (even when you are really unwell) may leave you worried that work will just pile up in your absence. However, if you are starting to prioritise work over your health, this is a very clear sign that work has taken over your life. In fact, it is especially important when we are working very hard to be mindful of our physical health. A study carried out in 2015 demonstrated one serious health implication of being over-worked, showing that employees that work long hours are at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke, than those who work standard hours.
Your Thoughts are Dominated by Work Related Concerns
If you find that you can think about nothing other than your job and things related to your job, you could be in danger of compromising your mental health.
You Are Feel As Though Something Is Missing
One of the less obvious signs that you are working too much is that niggling feeling of being unfulfilled. When you experience a feeling of something being missing or find that you just are not very happy in your life, this may be a strong indication that your job is taking its toll on your mental health as well as preventing you from going out and enjoying the things in life that make you truly happy.
About the author
Shelley Cho, a former finance lawyer, of www.justsensiblehealth.com runs health and well-being workshops in central London. Having worked in a demanding corporate environment for several years herself, she was keen to improve the health and well-being of those around her.
Shelley decided to take a masters in nutrition for global health and to train in a range of other disciplines to enable her to help those around her to manage stress and improve their health including meditation, nutritional therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, clinical hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. She now uses a combination of techniques to help her clients to achieve significant improvements in their mental and physical health.
Upcoming workshops in Central London include: healthy curry making, healthy dessert making, healthy cocktail making, natural skincare and a stress less workshop. Visit www.justsensiblehealth.com for further details on upcoming workshops.