In a culture where a lot of people are driven by wealth and success, many are those who have fallen victim to overworking. It is understandable if there are times when you need to stay at work for an extra hour or two if there is a deadline that you need to reach. Overworking is defined as working beyond one’s capacity, which can mean working longer than your regular hours or taking on more than you can handle. Hardworking is a quality that is viewed as a strength, however there is a fine line between being hardworking and overworking yourself to the point of burnout. There is a point where work becomes detrimental to one’s mental and physical health, and it can end up causing serious problems. At its extreme, overworking can mean working excessively to the point where one is constantly preoccupied with work and neglecting other important aspects of their life, including one’s family, health and social life. 

Who is likely to engage in overworking?

Although anyone can engage in overworking, research suggests that individuals who are perfectionists, have compulsive personality traits and are achievement-oriented are more likely to overwork themselves. Such individuals are likely to work harder than is being asked of them at the place of work, and have learned to see their job as the main thing that gives them satisfaction in life. 

What are the symptoms of overworking?

You may be overworking yourself if you find that you are experiencing symptoms such as lack of energy, insomnia, feeling distracted, or having a generally bad mood. Other symptoms of overworking include a weakened immune system, gaining or losing weight, or when you feel that balancing your work and social life is an impossible task. Being aware of these symptoms is vital to managing them before they start to severely affect your health. 

How can overworking impact your physical and mental health?

Overworking can cause a wide range of physical and mental health problems if sustained over a long period of time. When it comes to physical health, overworking has been linked to sleep deprivation as well as a higher risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. One of the main effects of overworking is burnout, which in itself can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It is important to know how to be able to manage your stress effectively so as not seriously impact your physical and mental health. 

How do I reduce overworking?

The main thing we need to keep in mind is that our health comes first, and not our career. If you feel that your physical and mental health are being impacted due to your work, then perhaps it is time to make a few changes in your life. You may want to create a schedule to help you manage your work better. Start by creating a to-do list at the start of your day, prioritise the items on that list, and perhaps also delegate some tasks to your other team members if this is possible. It is also important to take regular breaks while you are at work, especially if your job involves sitting down in front of a computer all day. Outside of work, it is important to increase your exercise as this will help you to manage your stress better. Engaging in self-care is also a great way to nurture your body, mind and soul so as to prevent burnout. Finally, take some time to enjoy some special moments with your friends and family as a way to take care of yourself. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing, gender, sexuality, relationship issues. 


Fisic, I (2020). How to Prevent Overworking. Retrieved from:

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Sussman, S. (2012). Workaholism: A Review. Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, 6, 1-18. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.S6-001.