The negative effects of working long hours


According to a recent global study, 745,000 people died in the past 12 months, from heart disease or stroke caused by working long hours. The World Health Organization (WHO) have suggested   this figure may increase on account of  the coronavirus pandemic.


Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health stresses the importance of maintaining a good “work-life balance”, to reduce the risk of burnout and improve mental and physical health.


“Working long hours can be hugely negative to all areas of life. Firstly, it can actually be counter-productive and detrimental to work performance; decreasing enthusiasm for the job, creating apathy and affecting our decision-making ability and attention levels. It can eventually lead to burnout.”


Our physical health can also be affected by working long hours. Headaches, sleep disturbance, eye strain, fatigue, exhaustion, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a decrease in  immune function, can all result from cumulative long working hours. Furthermore, the consequential mental health problems can be debilitating, leading to chronic stress, anxiety and even depression.


It’s important to maintain a good “work-life balance” to support mental and physical health as well as maintain good social connections and family relationships. Dr Paschos advises, “Stress is a normal part of life and it is natural to experience stress from time to time, but prolonged stress will eventually become overwhelming and affect every aspect of our life. If work load and deadlines are not sustainable, it’s vitally important to speak with your line managers to address the issues and devise a strategy to manage the workload.”


Dr Paschos is a huge advocate of regular breaks throughout the day, which can help improve work performance, as well as regular holidays throughout the year. “Don’t forget to take your holiday, even if you don’t manage to go abroad, time off at home is hugely beneficial, affording the opportunity to relax, rebalance and recharge.”


If your mental health is being affected it’s imperative to  seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity.


Read the report on long working hours:

For consultations with Dr Paschos please call freephone 0800 802 1030.

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