People work more than they should for several reasons: unbridled passion, sense of purpose, or simply out of necessity. Plus, there's the whole notion of busy people being more important—socially and professionally.
But when it comes down to it, how long should we really be working? How often should we be extending our work hours?
Unsurprisingly, there's no exact number; it depends on how much balance you need to productively accomplish your work and home duties. Researchers in Australia conducted a study with 8,000 workers ages 24 to 65. They asked the participants a series of questions regarding the length of their work week and the state of their mental health, measuring for happiness, anxiety, and depression. The researchers also "controlled for factors like race and ethnicity, household income, and health habits."
They found that while the average employee works for 47 hours a week, working past 39 hours severely affects one's mental health. What's interesting though is that, in terms of mental health, people who work for much less than 39 hours scored as poorly as overworked employees.
As for the suggested number of work hours, the scientists suggest that men should only work for around 43.5 hours a week, and women for only 38 hours. And it's not because men "can handle it" and women can't; overworking just hits women so much harder because we are still expected to take care of household responsibilities at the end of the day.
Damn the double shift.
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