Work-life balance is as much of a challenge as ever, and now there is evidence. A study has found a connection between long work hours and major depressive episodes. Specifically, those who worked 11 hours a day or more were twice as likely to experience depression.
For many people, work is more stressful than ever: worries about layoffs, doing more with fewer resources or taking on the responsibilities that used to be shared among a larger staff. No wonder that more Americans are taking antidepressant medication than ever.
While long hours are not a matter of choice for many people, for others overtime has become a style of working rather than an obligation imposed from outside. Maybe they are perfectionists, unable to let go of a project or responsibility when it has reached “good enough” status. Or their anxiety translates into obsessive behavior around work assignments. For others, work becomes a way of avoiding an empty home life.
A life that works requires balance: interpersonal intimacy, physical activity and fun in addition to employment. If work has started to crowd out the rest of your life, take action to avoid feelings helpless and becoming depressed. If the situation is temporary, look for stress relievers like exercise and time with friends to get you through. But if work is a chronic problem, look at what you can do to restore work-life balance. That may mean changing how you approach your work. It may mean changing jobs. For sure it means working to live, not living to work.