Don’t overwork yourself

AB Boyd | Cartoonist

How many hours are you enrolled in this semester? Now, how many hours do you spend studying for those courses and working on homework assignments? What about your extracurricular activities? Your job? Maybe even a second job?

Are you remembering to eat balanced meals every day? What about your exercise routine? How much sleep do you get? Did you forget about your commitments to your friends? When was the last time you called your mom?

College is overwhelming. And not to sound too much like a broken record, but the state of the world is not helping with the stress.

No matter how much you have on your plate, you’ve got to remember that by overworking yourself you are not doing anyone in your life — including yourself — any good.

In today’s overwork culture, classmates compare their numbers of under eye bags and sleepless nights. Coworkers brag about overtime. Friends complain that they’re busier than one another. You may even notice your family trying to one up each other with crazy workloads over the dinner table.

Overworking oneself is seen as admirable. Some believe it shows dedication or passion, when all it really does is make it harder for you to work hard in the future.

For one thing, it affects the quality of sleep you get each night. Study after study throughout the years has shown the correlation between long work hours and sleep quality. Whether that’s from high stress, staring at screens or constantly working mind, your workload can negatively affect your sleep schedule.

But a healthy sleep schedule isn’t the only thing overworking gets in the way of. When you develop bad habits like working until you fall asleep or pulling an all-nighter to get things done, it makes it harder for you to develop healthier work habits in the future. And this doesn’t do anything to help your relationship with your work either.

Working too much boosts your stress levels, of course. But it also limits the amount of time you have to get healthy exercise into your routine or perhaps the time to toss together a salad instead of picking up take-out.

The stress caused by overworking can also lead to negative coping habits from overeating, drinking alcohol or relying on drugs to help you get out of work mode and into a state of relaxation.

Stress and bad coping mechanisms like these go hand in hand. And both of these can contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

In addition to long term damage to your mental health, the rest of your body will not thank you for those extra two hours at Moody. People who work longer hours are more likely to suffer from different medical conditions and more likely to develop them earlier on in life.

A 2015 study in the Lancet Journal concluded that the longer the hours an employee worked, the higher the risk of suffering from a stroke or other forms of cardiovascular disease. In several other studies since then, overworking has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes and hypertension.

If your health doesn’t motivate you to turn away from your workaholic ways, the effect it has on your future work may convince you. Putting more work into something doesn’t necessarily make the outcome better. Like the popular saying, originally coined by the engineer Allen F. Morgenstern in the ‘30s, says, “work smarter, not harder.”

Researchers have found that overworking yourself can lead to more mistakes. The stress and exhaustion caused by a packed schedule can make it even harder for someone to do their day-to-day work. In fact, an overworked schedule dramatically lowers the quality of work that can be produced.

Now that all the negatives of overworking oneself have been thrown at you, your eyes might as well be rolled back into your head. So, what? You can’t change anything and it honestly seems like everyone is overworking themselves at this point in their life. Even though nobody is perfect, some of your peers might have a better handle on balancing their work life and personal life than you.

Some signs you might be overworking yourself, or suffering from burnout:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased illness

Even though symptoms of burnout are not just limited to these seven, they could be a sign that you need to change something about your work ethic.

Of course, there are many ways to prevent burning out that may be more personalized to you. But some more general approaches to preventing burnout include taking a break to do something for yourself, setting up boundaries between different parts of your day and saying no to added tasks when necessary.