Embrace Balance: Overwork is Not Worth Its Weight in Glory

By Callie Kessler
Contributing Correspondent, Strength Solutions

We all know the office workaholic. They’re often held up by toxic bosses as the workplace hero, a standard to which all others must live. (Which creates professional problems of its own, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.) Perhaps YOU’RE the workaholic. So we’re here to urge you to embrace a good work-life balance – because overwork is definitely not worth its weight in glory.

If you’re a business leader, we hope you also set a good example with your own work habits and nurture a healthy 21st-century workplace culture. The negative consequences of overworking are a disastrous combination of physical, emotional and cultural. 

Today’s world is extremely fast-paced. It may feel as if working ‘round-the-clock is the only way to possibly keep up, but it’s important to take a breather. 

Overworking Actually Harms Workers & Workplace Productivity  

In some professional circles, you’d almost think there’s a trend – though it’s far from trendy – of overvaluing overwork. Younger generations most certainly do everything in their power to buck that trend and prioritize themselves, to the point of damning employers who expect overproduction. 

(I’m in that generation, so good for us!) 

But there are still MILLIONS of American workers who rarely see the light of day … or even their families. It can get out of control, damaging individual well-being and workplace productivity

Workaholic? It’s not just a buzzword. There are indeed millions of individuals so devastatingly gripped by work that, just like an alcoholic or drug addict, they would:

  • Experience denial
  • Hide work or work when others aren’t looking
  • Have difficulty leaving the office (even for weekends or vacations)   

And that bleeds easily into the workplace:

  • Trouble delegating tasks, poor teamwork & micromanaging
  • Lacking focus & energy
  • Declining memory & cognition
  • Short temper & other behavioral issues
  • Prone to other signs of burnout

That devotion to work doesn’t sound anywhere close to devotion anymore, right? It’s a sickness that hurts everyone.

So here are some easy ways for yourself (and your team) to stop over-glorifying work to actually come to work prepared for success.  

Practice Self-Awareness 

You must learn to reflect on your work habits and how you’re feeling. Ask yourself: 

  • How do you feel mentally when it comes to work? 
  • How tired are you? 
  • Is your mood shifting under a large workload? 
  • Are you more irritable because you’re feeling drained?

Starting here can help you become aware of what sort of impact work has on your health. Acknowledging these effects can help you motivate change in your life. 

Your Body is Always Honest

In asking yourself those questions, though, the mind likes to play tricks. Your ego can will yourself into enduring more, accepting less and pushing harder than ever before. That’s an existence created for a professional athlete or prize fighter, but not a human being who happens to be a working professional.

Your body tells you everything you need to know if you just listen. It’ll tell you exactly when you need a break or recharge. If you’re feeling tired, drained, dazed or unable to focus, that’s your body telling you it is time to take a break. 

That’s it. Hard stop. Your body is screaming the truth.

The recommended time to be consistently working is 90 minutes before taking a quick break. Take a walk. Grab a snack. Rest your eyes to regroup. 

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Sleep, exercise and a healthy eating are the three keys to feeling energized and happy. We know, sometimes that’s easier said than done, but striving for that ideal makes us all more effective.

  • Sleep well (7-8 hours a night) 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet 

These three healthy elements help to maintain blood sugar and energy, reduces risks for heart problems, and improves brain function 

But don’t be afraid to treat yourself from time to time. (Enjoy that chocolate bar, if you really want it!) Listen to your body and be intuitive with your choices. 

Find New Hobbies

Do you enjoy going for walks, reading, art, etc.? There are so many things out there that can give you a break from your work. The trick is to embrace them! Overworked people often lose interest in things they love. 

So make time for yourself and your team to follow their interests and passions! 

I really enjoy playing pickleball and having Sip ’n Paint nights. Pickleball has grown in popularity in recent years. Grab a partner and hit the courts for a fun work out. Sip ’n Paint nights can be a self-night, date night or friend night! Get outside your comfort zone and do something NEW!

Avoid Overworking & Embrace a Good Work-Life Balance

Put yourself first – or encourage your team to put themselves first – and see the bigger picture. Pushing too hard always leads to burnout. It’s no coincidence that the healthiest workplace cultures are also the most productive.

Overworked people appearing as the picture of motivation and focus are also simultaneously unmotivated and unfocused. What’s also certain is that overworked people hurt themselves and others around them by making poor decisions and operating on dying batteries.

Listen to yourself and your wants and needs! Let’s start thriving!

overworked employee
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