Volume 6 Issue 6

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Page 26 | Abby's Magazine - At 35, Jennifer was single and childless. She poured herself into her work. As a physical therapist who also was director of the department at a hospital, she says she regularly put in 60 to 75 hours a week. "I was always working," she says. "I could avoid the emp ness in my life. I saw a full caseload of pa ents, o en more than those who worked for me," she says. She also a ended mee ngs, coached staff, did quality reviews and handled payroll and doctor rela ons. Then came the fallout. "My health effects were significant," she says now. Her periods disappeared. She cracked a tooth from grinding her teeth, had she had chronic abdominal pain and extreme fa gue. She had been ge ng help for what she says were her other issues: excess alcohol use and overea ng. She no ced she wasn't making the progress that her colleagues in those 12-step programs were. She Googled "workaholics," found Workaholics Anonymous, joined, and began to change her habits. That was 5 years ago. Her workweek now is calmer, saner, and capped at 40 hours. The rest of her life is falling into place, too. "I'm now in a loving rela onship" she says. Jennifer now prac ces self-care, makes me for a massage, yoga and the gym, and has let go of "the obsession to talk about work," she says. The turning point? She says she realized that work addic on, like the other forms of addic on, can be fatal. "If it doesn't kill me, it will keep me miserable the rest of my life," she says she realized. Overworking and Health Issues Many people s ll look at long hours on the job as proof of their work ethic. Some historians trace the work ethic to the Protestant Reforma on in the 1500s, when working hard was thought to align with the values of their faith. Americans who work full me log an average of 47 hours a week, according to a 2014 Gallup poll, and some, of course, put in many more hours. While Americans like to pride themselves on being the hardest workers around, it's not necessarily true, according to global sta s cs from the Organiza on for Economic Coopera on and Development. Its 2014 report found that overall, Mexicans average 43 hours a week, compared with U.S. workers' 34.2 hours. But in recent years, researchers have found that working long hours is linked with a variety of health issues, as Jennifer discovered. (Abiding by Workaholics Anonymous policy, she gives only her first name.) Among the ailments linked with long work hours are stroke, heart disease, mental health problems, diabetes, and abnormal heart rhythms. Long Hours Bring Risks, Many of Us are Guilty of This! Working Yourself to Death:

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