All work and no play is not good for you

Poor work life balance has negative health consequences.

All work and no play is not good for your health. Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of classes to help you manage your stress, build healthy relationships and feel better physically through good nutrition and physical activity. One area that seems to cause a lot of stress for many people is not having a good work life balance.

It may come as no surprise that Americans spend more hours working as compared to other prosperous countries. What you may not know, or maybe you do, that we Americans spend even more of that work time in the evenings and weekends.

Factors such as restructuring and lay-offs leave some people feeling a need to work longer and harder to avoid a layoff. Others feel the burden of more responsibilities with fewer people. Some work extra hours to gain recognition toward earning a promotion. Still others strive to clock enough extra hours just to survive everyday living expenses.

Whatever the reason may be for working long and hard, according to the Mayo Clinic, you can be sure there are serious negative consequences to your own health and your personal life. It is important to examine you own situation; find out how you are affected and take steps to maintain a healthy work-live balance.

Poor work-life balance signs and symptoms:

  • Tiredness can lead to not thinking clearly, being overly clumsy or making mistakes that may cost you your reputation and/or your job. When tiredness crosses over into exhaustion work burn out can occur. Signs of a work burn out can include low job performance, low job satisfaction, decrease in communication, not caring, being cynical and resisting any change in the work environment.
  • Health problems brought on by stress can lead to a weak immune system so you get sick more often, which can mean more days off work and loss of productivity. Stress can also affect your ability to deal with existing chronic disease symptoms like high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Cortisol – the stress hormone tends to increase blood sugar and blood pressure. You can find more information on the effects of cortisol on the Michigan State University Extension website and reading the article called Understanding Cortisol, by Gail Innis (2014). Other stress related health problems include ulcers, headaches, backaches, and a tendency to increase the use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Strained family/friendship relations if you are missing family and social events for work can lead you to feeling left out, and your family/friends feeling like you just don’t care enough to be there. If you have children at home, there is the added pressure of balancing work and personal time needed to take care of sick kids, doctors’ and dentists appointments, school and sports activities, and just the day-to-day routines of feeding, bathing, homework, and bedtime. Even if you are there physically for family events, if you are constantly checking email, texts or taking phone calls, it is obvious to everyone, if not to you, that you really aren’t there.
  • Increased workload if you continually do more than expected, others may assume you can or want to do more. Therefore, you may be given even more responsibilities. Although this may seem flattering, it can lead to an unhealthy balance of work and personal life. Give yourself the gift of time to think about offers of more responsibility. Assess your own values and goals in life. Ask yourself – will this bring me more joy and happiness? Will it bring in more money? Is it worth it to me? Is it worth it to my family?

We all have times when we feel overworked or overburdened. However, if you are having many of the symptoms described above you can take steps to change the way you do things, or look at things. One thing you can do is take advantage of free to low cost community courses to learn more about personal health and wellness. MSU Extension is one reliable resource with a long history of meeting community needs across the state. Find out what is happening near you by visiting the website or calling the toll free number 1-888-MSUE4MI. 

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