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Self-Care: Combating Overwork

Beth Hess - Friday, May 25, 2018

by MCF Clinical Supervisor Ronnie Biemans, MA, LCPC

Are you thinking about work 24/7? Do you find yourself checking email after the end of the workday or during the weekend? Is there no end to your workday? If you answered, “yes,” you are not alone. Overwork has become a common American phenomenon. Here are some interesting statistics:
  • In a recent national survey, 50% of respondents reported that they are consistently exhausted because of work, compared with 18% two decades ago.
  • 69% of American employees report that work is a significant source of stress. (American Psychological Association)
  • 41% of surveyed American employees report they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday. (American Psychological Association)
  • Americans are also taking less time off. In 2012, U.S. workers reported that 9.2 days of annual vacation days were left unused as compared to 6.2 days in 2010. (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • 42% of Americans surveyed say they check their email every day while on vacation. (Pew Research)
According to Kenneth Rosen in his New York Times article, “How to Recognize Burnout Before You're Burned Out,” some of our common work stressors are:
  • Challenges associated with new technology, changing atmospheres or different processes
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Frequent scheduling conflicts or interruptions
  • Unpredictable schedules
  • Physical demands like exposure to weather or heavy lifting
  • Added responsibility beyond the initial scope of one’s role without compensation
When we struggle with these challenges without relief, many of us experience detrimental physical and psychological symptoms that can affect health, well-being and our social relationships. So how do we overcome this? We could learn something from our European neighbors who seem to have a completely different perspective, sensible workweek hours and ample vacation time that they actually use. Here are some simple ways to begin to take back your life when you find work is taking over:
  1. Build downtime into your schedule. Make sure you have time and space for the important people and activities that make you happy and keep you healthy.
  2. Drop activities that sap your time and monopolize your schedule. Be mindful of time spent on social media.
  3. Let go of perfectionism.
  4. Unplug. Turn off your phone after a certain hour each evening. Once you have returned home, keep away from your laptop computer until your workday begins again.


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