Busy health?

Weekly Trust - - Weekend Health -

Judd-Leonard Okafor, adapted from We­bMD

There are things you sim­ply have to get done, and dead­lines are fast ap­proach­ing. They sim­ply have to be done, and you are stressed. But burnout is real, and it hap­pens when stress piles up to a level you can’t deal with any­more. Long hours of work and a packed calendar can cause it.

But are you help­ing your­self? Re­search sug­gests a big no.

When you con­stantly work over­time, your adrenal glands pay the price. They flood your body with cor­ti­sol and ep­i­neph­rine, the “fight or flight” hor­mones that gear you in times of dan­ger. Con­stant stress keeps them flow­ing, so you stay on red alert even you are not in phys­i­cal dan­ger.

When stress hor­mones hang out for a long time in your body, they can dam­age your blood ves­sels. That raises your chances for heart at­tacks and strokes be­cause they in­crease buildup of plaques that clog your ar­ter­ies. That in­creases your like­li­hood of hav­ing high blood pres­sure. In­fact, stress doesn’t sharpen your senses, it dulls them over time. And it doesn’t help you lose weight. In fact, high lev­els of cor­ti­sol makes your body hang on to fat, caus­ing ex­tra ki­los to pile up.

At this point, when you sim­ply can’t let go of your work, you be­come the clas­sic case of a worka­holic—work­ing long hours be­cause you are driven by an un­con­trol­lable urge.

There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing drawn to your work and be­ing con­trolled by it. Worka­holism can be like an ad­dic­tion.

Worka­holics have a hard time keep­ing a good qual­ity of life be­cause of ob­ses­sion with work. Not that it sat­is­fies you: the ex­tra hours you put in don’t nec­es­sar­ily bring pro­duc­tiv­ity.

And you are more likely to fall into this trap if you are in a manger po­si­tion over­see­ing other em­ploy­ees, work­ing for your­self or be­ing a young adult.

Un­healthy ad­dic­tion to work has a strong link with at­ten­tion-deficit hy­per­ac­tive dis­or­der, ob­ses­sive­com­pul­sive dis­or­der (OCD), anx­i­ety, and de­pres­sion. So that’s your men­tal health on the ta­ble. You may use work to avoid de­pres­sion, or work more be­cause those con­di­tions just won’t let you stop.

Stick­ing to your chair all day doesn’t leave room for ex­er­cise. You are rais­ing your chance of some kind of health prob­lem, whether it’s heartre­lated, can­cer-re­lated, or some­thing else en­tirely.

And you are also more likely to get sick when burn­ing your can­dle at both ends wears you down, be­cause that weak­ens your im­mune sys­tem too— leav­ing you less pro­tected from germs.

Be­ing swamped and stressed all the time can do a num­ber on your di­ges­tive sys­tem. It makes a dif­fer­ence in how quickly of slowly things move through your sys­tem—caus­ing ei­ther di­ar­rhoea or con­sti­pa­tion. Stress can also keep your body from tak­ing in the nu­tri­ents you need from the food you eat.

Con­tin­u­ous stress messes with your reproductive sys­tem. In men, it can curb sperm pro­duc­tion and lower testos­terone lev­els. Women can have ir­reg­u­lar cy­cles and less sex­ual de­sire when their bod­ies are swamped with stress.

Oh, and those headaches you get from a hec­tic sched­ule are caused by tense mus­cles. You might grind your teeth, have sore shoul­ders, or deal with a stiff neck. You’re likely to get headaches from all this mus­cle tight­ness. It may even trig­ger mi­graines.

You might over­work­ing your­self helps you sleep. No. Even though your work pace may make you feel sleepy when you should be awake, you’re more likely to have prob­lems falling asleep or get­ting good-qual­ity sleep once you do.

Tak­ing breaks and va­ca­tions reg­u­larly im­prove your work per­for­mance, mood, and health.

Short stints dur­ing your work­day or days and weeks away from the of­fice, can boost your well-be­ing. The ben­e­fits are es­pe­cially high if you spend that time do­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, learn­ing some­thing new, or prac­tic­ing re­lax­ation so your body can fully re­cover from the stress at work.

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