Corporate Wellness

Breaking the Cycle: Escaping the Overwork Trap

Corporate culture often equates overworking with success, but it comes at a cost. If you find yourself caught in this trap, we are here with strategies to help you break free.

By URLife Team
14 Mar 2024

The hustle culture has become ubiquitous today, where working long hours and not taking breaks or vacation days are seen as signs of success. We are conditioned to equate hard work with virtue, often sacrificing personal time for professional goals. Yet, this mindset carries grave consequences frequently overlooked.


If you find yourself lacking a fulfilling social life, frequently experiencing low moods, or struggling to disconnect from work even during leisure time, it could be a sign of overworking. Your relationships feel strained and you are unable to concentrate or make a decision then maybe you are under the influence of overworking. Another indicator could be feeling constantly drained and fatigued despite adequate rest, difficulty concentrating, or a sense of perpetual stress. These are additional indicators that show that you might be pushing yourself too hard.


Normalised overworking fosters chronic stress, fatigue, and burnout, with increased risks of physical conditions like heart disease and stroke. 


According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, employees working long hours were vulnerable to suffering from diverse types of occupational health problems including sleep problems, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, disturbed mental health and more.


Furthermore, it’s no surprise that it takes a toll on mental well-being, leading to anxiety and depression. The glamorisation of overworking and hard work can go too far. 


To overcome the problem of overworking, the concept of a 4-day workweek has been introduced , but simply reducing work hours or days isn't the ultimate solution. Fewer working hours only partially addresses the larger issue of work overload. If employees face the same workload within a condensed time frame, it could even exacerbate stress levels due to higher pressure to meet tight deadlines. 


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Reconsider the Assumption that Overworking Benefits Your Career

Contrary to common belief, research suggests that consistently working long hours does not lead to greater success and is counterproductive. A Stanford University study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when people work more than 50 hours a week. Those who work 70 hours a week only get the same amount of work done as those who put in 55 hours.


Another 2015 study by Boston University revealed that managers could not find any substantial difference between employees who worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.


Related Post: Setting Boundaries: A Guide To Navigating Workplace Relationships


5 Ways to Overcome from the Habit of Overworking 

Prioritise Self-Care

In a society that idolises overwork and constant productivity, it's easy to succumb to the normalised culture of excessive work. However, the repercussions of this phenomenon can be severe. From physical ailments to mental strain and strained relationships, burnout is becoming increasingly prevalent, necessitating action.


By prioritising self-care and striving for equilibrium, we can counteract the adverse effects of overwork and stress. Moreover, by instigating change at the organisational level, we can foster a culture that places equal emphasis on well-being and productivity. Let's strive for a future where burnout is not the standard but rather a thing of the past.


Embrace Slow Productivity 

Slow productivity involves working at a more leisurely pace, focusing on fewer tasks simultaneously, and finding enjoyment in the work process. This approach aims to redefine productivity based on the excellence of work rather than sheer quantity.


Outside of work, life can also be demanding, and this might raise the desire for a job that provides solace and relief. Embracing a slower pace may be one of the most valuable habits to adopt, allowing progress to be made steadily while reaching greater distances in the long run.


Recognise Your Efforts

You can't address what you don't acknowledge. Reflect on these inquiries: How sharp and concentrated is your mind after prolonged, uninterrupted work? How drained do you feel? What effect does it have on your emotions? And what toll does it take on your relationships? Challenge the narratives you construct to justify your actions.


Moreover, consider the long-term implications of your current pace. Are you sacrificing your well-being and fulfilment for short-term gains? Take a step back to evaluate whether your approach aligns with your values and aspirations, and be open to adjusting your habits for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.


Related Post: Make Your Workplace Less Stressful With UR.Life OHC


Draw Inspiration from Positive Role Models

Remind yourself of positive role models who have achieved success without succumbing to overwork. There are numerous examples of individuals who have reached great heights in their careers while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They could be your managers, mentors, teachers or even your parents. These role models demonstrate that it's possible to excel in one's career without sacrificing personal health and happiness.


Additionally, consider historical figures or contemporary influencers who have made significant contributions to society while also nurturing fulfilling personal lives. These individuals often emphasise the importance of time management, delegation, and setting boundaries to prevent burnout.


Set Boundaries and Learn to Say No

Learning to ignore unreasonable requests, even when they come from the boss, is essential for maintaining your well-being and professional integrity. Not all requests align with your job responsibilities or are feasible within your time constraints. Respectfully decline unreasonable demands for a few times and you’ll notice it’s not coming to you anymore. 


Furthermore, standing up against unreasonable requests can foster a culture of respect and fairness within the workplace. It sends a message that employees are valued and that their time and expertise are not to be taken advantage of. By advocating for yourself and your colleagues, you contribute to a healthier work environment where everyone can thrive and contribute effectively.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


The widespread glorification of overworking poses significant risks to our health, happiness, and overall productivity. By challenging the notion that success is synonymous with excessive work hours, individuals can reclaim control over their lives and prioritise their well-being. Implementing strategies such as setting boundaries, practising self-care, and advocating for a healthier work culture can help counteract the perils of overworking and foster a more balanced and fulfilling approach to work and life. 


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