What are the effects of working for prolonged hours on health during COVID?

May 31,2022

The novel coronavirus pandemic led to a widespread change in the working condition. Working from home was no more a luxury but a necessity for companies to keep their operations working well within the frame to survive and tide over these troubled times.

The work from home culture is a double-edged sword. While on one hand it allows people to work from their comfort space, near their family members and allows them the proximity to their loved ones, on the other hand, it has increased the work pressure to insurmountable levels, leading to health complications, both mental and physical. 

Long hours, increased screen time and the unsuccessful chore of juggling between home and work have taken a toll on many. While a lot has been said and done to improve mental and physical health during this time, the blurring lines between work and home has a palpable impact on the global workforce. 

Some of the most alarming effects of these long working hours are as follows. 

Mental Health Impacts:

Working from home led to increase in responsibilities. Juggling between office work, impromptu meetings, housework and kids, the act of managing all the tasks at the same time has led to severe anxiety among the people. The responsibility to keep things in order without ample rest is one of the major reasons for this unduly stress. Long working hours and catching up with extra work has drained most people out who often find themselves listless at the end of the day. 

The Fear of Loss
The pandemic has shut many sectors, with many jobs lost and households uprooted. Unfortunately, many organizations have played this card to push their employees to work harder, forcing them to put in extra hours, under the pretext that they might lose their jobs. This leads to long hours of back-breaking work in front of the screen that leads to sleep deprivation and lethargy. The fear of loss of job has had many fall in the bouts of hypertension and depression which is yet another psychological issue that has become more prevalent, thanks to the pandemic. 

Self-Doubt and under confidence
With days rolling into nights and weekdays rolling into weekends, there is no clear demarcation between what enough is and what isn’t. Due to the precarious situation and careers hanging by the thread, a lot of employees push themselves to work harder and better than yesterday. While in a competitive spirit, it is a good thing, this overstepping the work boundary is caused by the need to prove oneself. Many believe that they are not doing enough and end up spending more hours in front of their screens, ignoring their health and well-being in order to prove their professional mettle. Anxiety, depression and feeling of worthlessness are very common in such situations. 

Physical Impact

Increased Weight Gain
Sitting for long hours in front of the screen is not what the human body is meant to do. This lack of movement and exercise does not only lead to weight gain but also bone damage, making them brittle and susceptible to injury at the slightest impact. 

Loss of Energy
Exercising and moving leads to the release of oxytocin and endorphins that regulate mood and temperament. Not engaging in physical exercise leaves one lethargic and sluggish that directly impacts the weight and the muscles. Sitting for long hours in one position also results in aches and stiffness across the body, especially the joints that can deeply impact our natural lifecycle. 

Final Words

Meditation, 30 minutes of daily exercise, indulging in a non-work-related activity or spending time with loved ones is just as important as work and bringing the money home. Workers must invest in their mental and physical health, especially during these tiring times.