Workaholics May Face Poor Physical And Mental Well-Being, Study Suggests

Bad News For Workaholics

If you're addicted to checking your email and regularly work through evenings, weekends and vacations, you might be a workaholic -- and your health may be suffering because of it. Recent research has found a link between workaholism and reduced physical and mental well-being.

The Kansas State University study, which will be published in the journal Financial Planning Review, found that well-being is generally not a priority for workaholics.

"We found workaholics -- defined by those working more than 50 hours per week -- were more likely to have reduced physical well-being, measured by skipped meals," doctoral researcher, Sarah Asebedo, said in a statement. "Also, we found that workaholism was associated with reduced mental well-being as measured by a self-reported depression score."

To figure out why some choose to work overtime even when they know it's not good for health, the researchers turned to a mathematical analysis called Becker's Theory of the Allocation of Time, which helps to measure the cost of time. The theory highlights the paradox that working overtime leads to more income, but less time to spend this income. it also suggests that as income increases, workers are more likely to develop unhealthy habits around working excessively.

"[Becker's Theory] looks at the cost of time as if it were a market good," Asebedo said in the statement. "This theory suggests that the more money you make, the more likely you are to work more. If you are not engaged in work-related activities, then there is a cost to the alternative way in which time is spent. Even if you understand the negative consequences to workaholism, you may still be likely to continue working because the cost of not doing so becomes greater."

The findings are based on data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that included 12,686 young men and women. All the study participants were interviewed each year until 1994, and are still interviewed biennially.

Of course, it's no secret that overworking can have a negative effect on your health and happiness. A number of studies have shown the detrimental toll that work stress in particular can take on your health, including depression and an increased risk of heart attack and diabetes. And workaholism in particular has been associated with poor sleep quality, weight gain, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, not to mention unhappy marriages and higher divorce rates.

And with the possibility to work from anywhere, at anytime, it's easier than ever to become a workaholic in the first place. More than eight in 10 Americans are stressed about their jobs -- citing an unreasonable workload as their number-one stressor -- and 61 percent of employed vacationers will work through their vacation this year (up from 52 percent last year).

But turning on that out-of-office autoreply and taking some time to rest and recharge can actually have a positive effect on not just your well-being, but also your productivity. Even a short nap can boost cognitive functioning, improving creative thinking, learning and memory.

"Renewal is not for slackers," Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, told the Huffington Post. "Renewal is a way in which to increase your capacity to be more effective."

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