Long Hours on the Job Could Affect Your Happiness

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My husband is a self-admitted work-a-holic.  Before kids, he would easily put in 12-14 hour days at work, and continue getting calls, pages, emails, etc. after he got home.  Fortunately a lot of that has changed since we had kids, but he’s still someone who works a lot because he’s passionate about his job and loves what he does.  However, he might be the exception rather than the rule. 
I have friends who put in very long hours because their job demands it.  They like their jobs, but wouldn’t necessarily say they “love” them.  They work so many hours because there’s just so much to get done.  It’s stressful for those who have kids and are trying to balance work and family, but it’s also stressful for those who don’t because they still want to have a work-life balance.   I’ve had long talks with a few of these friends because their job situations are stressful and to a certain extent, make them sad.  The results of a new study seem to validate the idea that working long hours is tied to higher rates of depression.
The study, published in the journal PLoS One, collected data on British workers over a 5-year period.  Although they had no mental issues at the beginning of the study, “ultimately, the men and women who routinely worked 11 hours a day or more had more than double the risk of developing depression compared with those who usually worked eight hours or less.”  Another recent study found that occupational workers who put in the most overtime had the highest rates of anxiety and depression.   It’s easy to see why there could be a link between work hours and mental well-being.  Working more means you have less time for friends and family, less time for personal activities like exercise, and less time for sleep.  So what can you do?
Some jobs require more hours at certain times of the year (such as an accountant during tax season or a factory worker when a big job is in the pipeline), and the best you can do is prepare for those times and try to get through them.  If it seems like there’s no end in sight to the long hours and it’s starting to take its toll, consider your options:  Can you find another job that’s not so demanding?  Can you talk to your employer to see if there’s a way to compromise and work less hours?  Can you squeeze in a workout at lunch to help you de-stress during the day?  Can you get out of work a little early a few days a week to compensate for those long days?  Most employers want their staff to be happy and healthy, so hopefully they will try to work with you to come up with a solution that works for everyone.  In the end, you have to decide if the long hours are having too much of a negative effect on your health, or if maybe there’s a way to restructure your job to make it more tolerable. 
Have you ever been in a situation where working so much had a negative impact on your health?  How did you handle it?

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VHAYES04 8/10/2020
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Good articel Report
So glad I no longer work in the workforce. I had a supervisor that expected people to arrive at 8am and not leave their desk until lunch and then not until 5pm. When I started taking health breaks to talk with someone rather than email/phone them, take something to the mail drop, etc. I got reprimanded. They talked the good talk on health and taking care of yourself but it was not supposed to happen during work hours. Report
Before I retired, I had a job with twice-yearly publishing deadlines requiring a month or more each time of very long hours, taking work home every evening and often working until midnight. I ate very badly during that time. I was single at the time and dinner sometimes was a bag of microwave popcorn or greasy take-out which I picked up on the way home. Sleep habits were poor and energy levels low, but I pushed through to deadline every time. Report
I have learned a long time ago, but still struggle with it, is to try and keep a well balance life. When something is good more is better. Report
Thank You Report
I used to try really hard to get the house clean, but it felt like everyone was working against me, and I had to stop helping to clean the house, on the advice of doctors who just thought it wasn't worth it at all. Really, it's too bad. I think houses should not be too big to clean. Ours is a real behemoth! Report
I am not guilty of over working but my hubby is. He is a workaholic and he doesn't seem to realise the toll its taking on his health . So I took the liberty of hiring a VA(habiliss) for him and it made all the difference. Now he is less stressed and sleeps easier. Report
Oh my God, think. if you have no family or people to spend your time with then its okay to work long hours but if you have then it is really hard . Anyways, stress is just a simple matter to solve. Why don't you relax your mind or body after work, helpful right? Doing some yoga or tai chi. But the best one that I can advice to you is that you must take a long rest too.

Or you can visit my blog @ www.performwell.co.uk to overcome stress and for more details and instructions. Report
I used to work way way way too much, things are just starting to change now! I can't believe how it changed my entire personality! I started writing a happiness blog in the height of the craziness and the unexpected result; I discovered a lot about how I was really feeling about things through my writing. Now I feel like I'm really on a journey to not work even half as much and make major changes in my life. I was particularly inspired by the book The 4-Hour Workweek. Here's my blog

ot.com Report
It has been a terrible experience working for hours
In an unfriendly enviroment. No break, no uninterrupted
Power supply and the set of people you interact with do
not appreciate your effort even at the detriment of
Your health.
Wow, I love this topic. I have been at my current job for 12yrs and I am a manager. I can say I like my job, however, the long hours I put in weekly are definitely taking toll on me mentally and physically. Working the hours that I do mentally I am so drained and aggravated that I sometimes take it out on my staff. Physically, I am a member of a gym which I never go to because by the time I get home my legs, feet, knees and just all my body aches. Most of the ache is from the pounds that keep finding me because I don't take time for me. I have health problems as it is and everyday I keep saying that I need to get out there and make myself healthy. My boyfriend has mentioned that when I come home from work that I am so negative which leads to us fighting often. Then because we fight about hours and work that I am negative at work and resentful and can not put my full potential in without stress.
This year our insurance went to more of the preventative side of things, so I just want to know, "how do we prevent when there is no time to do so?" Report
Race2Live2011, I totally identify with how you describe your job, as well as needing to lose weight but being too busy/tired to spend time on it. Because of some of those things, i.e. "looking to push some of their stuff on you. Co-workers who are not very nice and seem to always get away with stuff where no matter how professional you are, you get the bad end of it," as well as being fed up with a position I'd been moved to that was totally different from/99% less enjoyable than what I'd come to that company to do, I ended up exploding at work on my immediate supervisor and my department supervisor, telling them I would quit if things kept on the way they've been. My immediate supervisor badmouths people to everyone and is so unprofessional, so I'm sure she told everyone at work what I did and talked crap. But the other supervisor told me that I'm a great employee, he doesn't want me to leave, etc.

But it just seems that every day there is something to complain about and things only change for the worst, not the better. They made changes that would allegedly make our work more efficient, but it seems like I am at work more now than I was before when the amount of work hasn't changed. I work 3 days in two on Mondays and Tuesdays because my company promised their client that they could meet a standard that they absolutely cannot meet, even when they work us like crazy, but we get the blame for it. I am to the point where I will take a pay cut to be out of this environment, to get more stable/normal hours, more job security, more of a chance for advancement/higher pay in the future, etc. I have been sending out resumes and am getting responses...I have an interview later today, and I hope one of these things pans out.

I see some people who say they love their job or know someone who does, but I have hated every job I've had (except for an internship) and feel that each one is worse than the one before. I hope this is not always going to be the case. I know that with most jobs, there will be something you don't like. But this is the 3rd job I've had where I've wanted to just get up and walk out without anything lined up. Report
Work life balance has been really hard for me these last 4 years. My husband works construction so he is on again off again and for the last 11 months it's been off. So I have been the sole provider of money and benefits. He has helped out where he can and bless his heart it has helped at home, but work is another story. 50 to 60 hours worth of work that you have only 40 hours to do it in. No authorized Overtime, stressful environment because everyone is busy with their own stuff and looking to push some of their stuff on you. Co-workers who are not very nice and seem to always get away with stuff where no matter how professional you are, you get the bad end of it. I have looked for other work, but none that pay so that we can live. And to top it off, I need to loose almost 90lbs but am too tired and wiped out to do anything about it and that's not fair to me or my family. I feel like a hamster on a wheel with no way out but to pass out. I keep hoping that one day I will win the lottery and then I can relax, I just hope it happens soon :-) Report
i used to work in a position that the managers (yes multiple) overseeing me were so micromanaging & differently minded that i was incredibly stressed out ALL the time. i was one of those that came home, yelled at the kids, kicked the dog (not really) and made & drank a drink before i could even be civil towards anyone.

i finally couldn't handle it anymore & applied for a position transfer. i love the company i work for, but the position was literally turning me into a basket case. When one of my managers asked why i put in for the transfer, i told her point blank that she was driving me nuts. i think she thought (at the time) that i was joking with her. It wasn't until about a year later that she came up to me and asked 'were we really driving you that crazy?' Apparently my whole outlook had changed since changing departments. Report
When I work long days it is hard to have time for me. When the work is here I have to do it.... Report
I have been in the same job for 22 years. I have been off of work since March 1 d/t gall bladder surgery. I can't wait to get back. I'm the type of person that needs structure. When I'm at home, even recuperating I don't have it. There's only so much housecleaning and laundry that can be done. I've had my share of watching TV (something I don't normally do). I'm still exercising, tracking etc here at SP, but I miss my job. Report
Sometimes I just want to find a corner and CRY because I am so stressed at work. However, I am working to change that. I have an interview on March 22nd and one crazy step further, my current employee really really doesn't want me to leave and is trying to create a different position for me, so there is hope of the horizon. For those still crying in corners or being so Stoic, don't give up. One day at a time. Report
When work is a joy, do it with your whole heart while planning an exit strategy...it wont be a joy forever...Everything has a season!! Report
I love my job and I work 60 hour nights. I can understand however the implications of this story so I am wondering am I the exceptin to the rule? I hope that who ever reads this are able to follow their heart and live a happy life with or with out the stresses of the long hour day/night job as happiness is key to success. I was depressed due to lack of work and other life situations and now I could not be happier because it works for me! Please find what makes you happy and go for it as life is far to short!!! Report
It took a long time but I did it. Couldn't change the job, the job was changing me, so what did I do? Took an early retirement. It was the right decision and I absolutely do not regret it. Report
I have gone the extra mile for my job - but not to the point of no return! Report
This was good information. Thanks for sharing. My problem is the opposite... I do not get enough hours (I work part-time) and stress about making ends meet. I have been looking for a new job for the past three years and I have not had any success so far. Report
My old job was taking its toll on my life. I was working after hours and weekends and had no time to fit in exercise, proper home cooked meals and I also had no time for friends and family. I really enjoyed the work and got to learn so much and grow in my career. I only noticed the effect it was having when I got married mid last year, luckily I was able to get a less stressful more rewarding job by the end of 2011. Now I have more time on my hands and the quality of my life has vastly improved. Report
Even though I could see signs of "burn-out" in my subordinates and worked with them to rearrange things so they weren't under so much pressure, I failed to see those signs in myself. When I did I would make some excuse that it was only temporary.

The first sign (which I ignored), was not being able to sleep the first night of a road trip (It wasn't my bed, there were different noises, etc.) I was on the road 4-6 days a week, and sometimes I wouldn't stay in one place two nights in a row. That meant a new bed in a different hotel and again, a "strange bed".

My sleep problem became so bad I started to fall asleep while driving (lucky for me I had a really great car and she never went outside of the lines). I went to my Family Doc and she said I should use an over-the-counter sleeping pill. All that did was make me more hyper. Then I started using a prescription Med and I was, for a time, able to sleep the first night in a different hotel room.

Then I lost two key employees to promotion (I had only planned for one), and I found myself training a replacement for one three days a week, and training a replacement for the planned replacements replacement three other days a week. The problem was, my two locations were 200 miles apart. Making a long story short, due to one thing or another I went seven months without a vacation or even a day off.

My district routinely was ranked in the top three, quarter after quarter, both in sales and unit profitability. my Regional VP was always encouraging me to get my sales and profitability up higher, and I put the pressure on myself to get that done.

I finally told him I needed help and 2-3 days off in a row, and what I had been doing, working 7 days a week.

Because of my Type A personality and hating to ask for help, I was having difficulties at home. It got to the point where I'd Rather be gone than home.

I started having a problem listening to emotional songs, and found myself getting all teary-eyed. I got pretty adept at changing radio stations when I would hear the start of some emotional song.

Taking my DW to dinner and a "Chic Flick" wound up with me leaving after about 40 minutes - I couldn't handle the emotions.

I had always been a "man's man" and didn't cry, not even when my Dad passed after a battle with lung cancer.

My DW started noticing I would go hide in a book or mess around on my computer when certain shows came on. Yep, anything emotional just took me out.

I started seeing a therapist (Psychologist) and one day I just left my body. I was nearly catatonic and tears were flooding out of my eyes. I checked in to our local franchise of the Cuckoo's Nest Resort and Spa for three days - I left 10 weeks later. I fought clinical depression and agoraphobia long enough that I had to leave my job.

After 6 months (now I had a Psychiatrist along with my Therapist), my Psychiatrist told me I should seriously consider applying for disability. I have always told my doctors that if they have something to say, don't beat around the bush because I might think it's a rabbit and shoot them. On reminding him of my preferred means of communicating, he told me his medical opinion was that I would never be able to work again.

I was taking the max dose of the, then, two most powerful anti-depressants available to the psychiatric field, plus a third psych medicine to make my drowsy and a fourth psych medicine to keep my sleep as uninterrupted by brain activity as possible.

Unfortunately, he was right. Even now, seven years later, there are days when I can't leave the house, days when I have to leave a family get-together and just spend the day in my cave.

I believe, and it has been confirmed by my doctors, that long hours and a supremely powerful pigheadedness is what crashed me. I had never thought that I had any problems coping as a ground commander in Vietnam, though my family did tell me I had really changed when I got back - but my psychotic breakdown manifested itself as a full blown case of PTSD - to go along with the other junk.

So, as an eyewitness with too much experience, I BEG you to not go as far as I did.

Change whatever you have to change - regardless of whether you have to leave your job or do something else - meditation, yoga, prayer, whatever works for you. Whatever it was that was so important is Absolutely NOT worth losing your health over. Report
I couldn't handle it... I had a nervous breakdown after 26 years in a highly stressful sales job, with increasing responsabilities (downsizing and layoffs)... as you get older this is so much harder to manage... also have chronic migraines and IBS, and had to stop working.... and 4 years later am still trying to recover...not worth it... would have been better off in a more 'normal' job and perhaps I still could have been working today (however I think a lot more jobs out there are 'stressful' today with all the downsizing and layoffs, the people left have to take on all the responsabilities of those that were downsized.... Report
Long hours had not only a significant impact on my health but on my life. I was working anything up to 100 hours a week some weeks and was going all over Scotland a i was a mobile security officer. Whilst I enjoyed my job it took its toll and it ahs left me unable to work thorugh stress related disabilities. At least that is what I have been told. It has meant that I am no longer able to work because of Health and Safety issues. The thing is that, at the time you do what you have to do. You do not see this invisible thing creeping up on you until one day you suddenly feel something that should not be there. You soldier on anyway thinking it willpass and in doing so you are only making things worse. In my case I was on shift a long way form home one night when my body went into spasm, i started to get muscle tremors and I could abrely walk. I made it to an area where I knew people were working and they took me to the local hospital. I was told that i could nto drive whcih meant my wife and son had to come to collect me, a 3 hour drive, and although i tried to carry on working it just proved too much and my emplyer's Occupational Health department ended up by terminating me on health grounds with the caveat that, in their opinion, I was not fit to work. My doctor confirmed that and that was over six years ago. I will never work again because of my disabilities and by relating this I hope that it may persuade those of you who do burnt he candle at bboth ends with your work to try and ease off. In the end it is simply not worth your life. I am lucky in that I am still alive. I have ehard of people suffering heart attacks and all sorts through overwork. Take a tip; your life is too precious to ignore. Report
I left my job of 10 years because of depression, high blood pressure and anxiety to the point of needing medication. My boss had the attitude that job's were hard to find to she could overwork people knowing they would stay.
In the 8 months since then I have not been able to find a job.
My health has greatly improved and i am off all medications. I just pray God has a new job lined up for me soon before my unemployment runs out. Report
Thanks for sharing. So easy to put that job first. Report
This is exactly why I walked away from a job after almost 11 years. I missed raising my kids, my youngest had just started high school and I realized that I missed everything. I now have a wonderful job that allows me time for my family! Report
actually, looking back, i handled it really poorly and it cost me--my health, my relationship, my happiness, myself. it took leaving my last position but by then the damage had already been done. lessons learned i guess. Report
I cut back to 3 days a week because it was really affecting my hands, my happiness and getting things done at home. Fast food is not the piece of cake job people think it is.... Report
for me, it meant leaving and taking a cut in pay. It has been a struggle but it has been better for my health and my marriage. Not a perfect job that I went to but it helped me create a little better balance in my life Report
I have been in that situation for the last 11 years - saying just one more week or one more month of intensity and then I can get into a more normal routine. I have realized that it just won't change, so I am changing. I have put in place the elements that will result over the next 3 - 6 months, of a re-invented workplace and a re-invented me (my role). Report
I used to work 10 hr shifts at a high stress job. Boy did I feel better after I resigned. The most difficult one for me was 5PM - 3AM - the busiest time for everyone. Report
I've been in that situation. I had a job where the last 8 months were a nightmare. I worked at least 70 hours/week and sometimes 90. I had two days off in that 8 months - one of them was Christmas Day and another was a Saturday. Two days without work. I was vocal about how bad it was, but the final straw was when they layed off a co-worker who had been helping me. Not only did I lose his help, but they asked me to take on some of his responsibilities. I quit, and I've never regretted it.

Today's economy is fortunately improving, but during the recent recession some companies took advantage of the employment difficulties and kept piling on more and more responsibility. During those last 8 months I put a priority on working out to both reduce the stress and to stay healthier, but I could definitely see the temptation to skip workouts to save on precious time - and that probably would have lead to depression. Together my husband and I made the decision that it was better for me to quit than to continue that ridiculous schedule and we're both very happy! Report
Work-life balance is a constant struggle for most but it might be disguised as a different underlying issue; that some people don't like their job. You want to be a 'victim' in the situation but the real truth is you're not! You come to work everyday by choice, you're the one making yourself miserable. In my case, I don't have a family to support, so I took the time (an invaluable investment) to figure out what job I could be passionate about and guess what, I'm now making enough money to suppprt myself and I love my job! And that makes coming to work everyday that much easier. So get out there with a positive attitude and an open mind and figure it out! Report
Long hours and little time off is the reason that unions lobbied for changes in legislation. The reason for the 40 hour work week, the 12 hour shift. I've worked more than 40 hours and more than a 12 hour shift (in emergencies). It can be unsafe for you physically at the time you do it and unhealthy if continued over a period of time. Most employers are concerned with the bottom line, not the workers. It is cheaper to pay overtime than hire someone else. I loved my job and did it for over 25 years. However, I rarely worked in excess of 40 hours, except for one year when the company couldn't find someone to do the work. I must admit they did try several people before they found someone and they were a good employer who cared (most of the time) about the employees.

I agree with the member who is working part time and living life. As long as you have your mortgage paid, food and clothing, living everyday with family is better than a heart attack at 37 or not knowing your kids. Report
In my case, it was not the long hours that affected my happiness but rather the people I had to deal with. I USED to work in customer service, and it was making me so unhappy and impatient with everybody because customers on the phone will treat customer service representatives like dirt. It's a very discouraging environment because there are always problems and customers are always calling in angry and blaming YOU for it.
I realised this wasn't good for my mental health as I was becoming depressed from my work environment. I ended up quitting my job without any other job in sight, and you know what? I became SO much HAPPIER without a job and with no money to spend than in comparison with getting paid to work at a terrible job.
It was then that I realized that money will not always bring you happiness. Now I would rather work part time and spend more time living, even if it means having less money. Report
It depends on if you're using your job to "escape" your real life! lol! I know people who'd rather be at work than at home!
My job has only ever effected my health when I get sick and still put in long hours... if I don't get rest, I don't get well!
I guess it effects my butt size too...the longer I sit everyday, the more bigger the butt spreads out!
Okay, and the fact that I have a bad shoulder and elbow from my posture while constantly typing, that would be and effect too I guess!
Yep, I too need to win the lottery and get out of here! Report
I have certain times in my job where I need to work weekends, longer hours, and/or change my shift, and they are VERY stressful. I usually pack on 5 lbs during this time and then spend the rest of the year trying to get it back off. I am physically unable to exercise if I'm working a 12-hour day with virtually no breaks (I'm an exempt employee) and then need to take care of my daughter and the household after that. These periods can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months a year. And my willpower to eat well completely tanks. I am currently in a lull in my job where I'm not pressed for time, which is nice, and I'm taking full advantage of it by exercising as much as I can and sparking! The one thing that keeps me going during the stressful times is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always a go-live date when the project will be rolled out, and then we know we can take breaks and vacations again. Report
Work for me is both a motivator and a stressor/demotivator. But until I win the lottery...! Report
I'm guilty of overworking, but working is one thing that makes me happy. I've started taking a break to run at lunch, and hopefully it'll help de-stress me! Report
I am totally this person or rather used to be. I don't have a problem with working long hours if the job demands it or because I want to. I work in a field (academic research) where we are all expected to work late hours because "that's the only way to get ahead." I have long since come to realize that my happiness comes first and that my job is just a thing that helps me pay bills. I work to live. I don't live to work. However, academics do not have a concept about work-life balance. And all the PIs (principal investigators or lab heads) wonder why their postdocs are so miserable? Report
I was in this situation beginning in 2008 when I had my son.

My husband and I worked opposite schedules (he went in to work at 3am and I was supposed to be at work at 3pm).

Daycare was out of the question because we couldn't afford $125 a week for it. We would have to meet in the parking lot of my work to hand off the kids with only about 2 seconds to say hi to each other.

I was always stressed about being late to work if hubby had to work over and trying to actually find time to even see him other than when he was sleeping.

We stressed about money like everyone else. And then in 2010 I had my daughter.

My work would no longer work around our schedules and suggested that we find a solution to the problem. My problem in their eyes were my kids. That's when I knew that it wasn't worth it to put my job before my family anymore.

My husband and I decided that I would stay home with the kids permanently. It was the best decision we ever made.

Yes, we still have to pinch pennies but I know that my kids are being taken care of and I no longer have the stress that my job was putting on me on top of everything else.

I no longer have migraines!! Report
I seem to be stuck in this exact position - I am a tax accountant, left to work in the private sector because it seemed like I had a deadline every month. The new job ended up requiring even more hours than public accounting. I returned to public accounting, but to concentrate in one area, guaranteeing only 2 planned busy seasons, making it fully known to my employer that outside of busy season I would NOT work the hours I found myself working. I'm exhausted right now but it is nice knowing that there is an end in sight. I will say though that the hours and the stress made be completely depressed. I"m hoping that once this busy season is over I will be able to enjoy life more. Report
I gave up the job before it pulled me under Report
My ex husband. Impossible hours(we're talking 7am to 3am frequently), a job he hates with no rewards and continuous stress. He is one of those people who would never leave. Instead, "in order to feel more in control" (his words, not mine) he embarked down a path of risky behaviors, creating a double life, putting his health and his life at risk and ultimately sabotaging and destroying our 16 year marriage. His depression got so great after that he didnt eat and lost 75 lbs in 2 months (emaciated).
He is STILL at that job. Report
Thank you and thank you for the link to the study. I work almost all of the time AND I love what I do. I am working to learn to say 'no' to things I want to do .. or think should be done, but no one else can do them.

I have been on spark since August and began trying to take 1 day off a week from work. I don't read email or go to any work sites. I am happier and more relaxed.. but I still can't say no as often as I should.

This post strengthens my resolve! Thanks again. Report
I have been in this type of situation...I was fortunate enough to find a new job (and have been there for 14 years now) that understands that the employees need to be happy and have "down time" in order to do their best job. I still have days when I have to work later during the busy season but I understand better now how to balance it all! :) Report