What effect can overworking have on my health?

Overwork can be bad for your health in a number of ways.

With so many neglected aspects of your life competing for the little time and vigour you have left after work, the prospect of regular exercise – the cumbersome business of getting to the gym, for example, or going out for a run on a dark, rainy night – can quickly lose its appeal and its place in your schedule.

Then there’s your diet. Long, exhausting hours can leave you feeling too beat to prepare nutritious meals. Instead, quicker fixes become more appealing – crisps and snacks, ready meals and takeaways. It’s a very easy habit to fall into, but it won’t be long before it starts to take its toll on your body.

Long hours with few breaks can also encourage you to drink a lot of coffee, at all hours of the day, which is not advisable. A quick surge of caffeine-fuelled energy may seem like just what you need, but too much caffeine can have a damaging effect on your body clock, nervous system and circulation.

The work-hard culture also often goes hand-in-hand with a play-hard one. After a tough day at work, drinking can produce a welcome release, but doing it regularly increases your chances of developing all sorts of serious and potentially fatal conditions, including anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, dementia and depression.

Then there are the direct physical effects of working long hours. If you work in an office, you probably spend the bulk of your day sitting in the same position. It might not be quite as damaging as going up chimneys or working down mines, but it still takes its toll. Back pain and RSI are two very common problems associated with desk work, and continuous computer use can put a heavy strain on your eyes.

And there’s the effect of stress, which can trigger a whole textbook of medical conditions all by itself.

All in all, working long hours tends to reduce your level of fitness, play havoc with your diet and put stress on your mind and body. The result? Poor circulation, increased weight, heart problems, higher cholesterol levels, lack of energy, poor sleep, bad concentration, nervous conditions, depression, and so on. With that lot in mind, health and fitness should really be at the very top of your list of priorities.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.