12 Signs You Need to Stop Working So Much

Strike a healthy work-life balance or suffer these scary consequences

Every day at work, you’re the first one in and the last one to leave. You hope that kind of dedication impresses your boss, but the truth is, logging too much time in your cubicle might be driving you straight to your deathbed.

Workaholism is a serious health offense, and a good chunk of the workforce is guilty of it. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the average full-time worker in the U.S. spends 47 hours a week on the job—that’s almost a whole extra day on the grind. What’s more, nearly 40 percent of workers say they log 50 or more hours each week.

(And it’s more than just the numbers—see the 5 Signs You’re Working Too Much.)

You need to unchain yourself from your desk. Take these 12 hints as your official warning to break your bad habits before you burn out.

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1.Your Prius Feels Like Prison
Detours, traffic, gas prices—there are a lot of things driving you crazy on your morning commute to the office. But here’s one more: The more time you spend behind the wheel, the less likely you are to be happy with your life overall, finds a new study from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

But until they invent a way for you to zap yourself from your home to your office, your daily drive isn’t going anywhere. So make the most of it: A 2012 study found that listening to music during a long drive can actually improve your mood and relieve work-related stress. Just pay attention to what you’re playing—Listening to This Kind of Music Can Calm You Down.

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2. You’re Working Hard, But Playing a Little Harder
After a draining day at work, you’re tempted to take the edge off by downing a few beers. And you’re not alone—chances are your neighborhood bar will be full of other guys who pass the rest of their waking hours pushing papers.

Men who spend 49 hours or more a week in their office consume more alcohol than guys who tap out at 48 hours or less, a Finnish study found.

But this strategy might leave you more stressed than when you first slunk down on that barstool: The same study found that downing more than 2 drinks a night started to affect the men’s performance at their jobs.

So swap screwdrivers for straight OJ instead: Drinking a glass of orange juice twice a day decreases the secretion of stress hormones, according to a 2011 study from the University of Alabama.

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3. Your Back Is Barking
Your head’s not the only thing that pounds when you’re riddled with work. Workaholics are significantly more likely to report disabling back pain than those who aren’t as job-obsessed, according to a recent Japanese study.

The link remained even after taking type of job into account—say, manual workers versus office dwellers—leading the researchers to believe that psychological factors may play a role in the pain’s development.

If you’re parked in front of the computer, tweak how you sit to reduce strain. Support your lower back with a pillow, keeping your hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel. This perfects your posture and eases pain according to guidelines from Harvard Medical School.

And for acute cases, Skip This Common Pain Reliever and Do This Instead.

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4. You’ve Slashed Your Sick Days
Bueller? Bueller? Everyone knows the best “sick” day is spent when you’re totally healthy. But tack on too many late nights at work and you could end up depleting all your PTO for health-related reasons: People who work compulsively and excessively are more likely to use up sick days than those who check out when their shift ends, the same study from Japan found.

Overtime can lead to increased strain on your body and mind, finds the research—low back pain and mental health issues were the two main reasons workers called off. Your best bet: Take a break before you get ill and you’ll come back fully charged. Just make sure you know how to Make the Most of Your Vacation Days.

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5. Your Reflection Resembles a Zombie
Your nightmarish job could be what’s keeping you from drifting into dreamland. Work is the main cause of sleep disturbances, according to a recent study published in the journal SLEEP.

A separate study from Japan also found that workaholics take longer to fall asleep at night, possibly because they continue stewing over their to-do lists before finally nodding off. And mulling over work-related issues ‘round the clock also kept them in a state of constant fatigue.

You want to snooze for 7 to 9 hours a night, according to guidelines from National Sleep Foundation. Logging less than 7 hours can start to impede your mental, emotional, and physical performance—and not just on the job, either. Try these 5 Ways to Sleep Better so you can hit the hay quicker and wake up feeling refreshed.

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6. Your Relationship Is Crumbling
Your work life might be sinking your real life. Couples who struggle to strike a balance between work and home are more likely to break up than those who are able to separate the two, a study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Therapy found.

Pairs who let office matters over into their personal lives were more likely to experience “displaced aggression,” where the overflow of issues causes them to snap at the wrong person at the wrong time—like your kids when you get home, or the intern after a rough commute to work. So handle conflicts in their own domain: Resolve work at the office, and manage your relationship woes at home.

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7. Your Dedication Is Morphing into Depression
All work and no play can leave you with more than a temporary bout of the blues. People who work long hours are more likely to be depressed than those who clock out after 8 hours, finds a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

This could be because people cling to their work when issues arise at home, says study author Liselotte Dyrbye, M.D. And snowballing work-home conflicts can contribute to an increased risk of burnout, depression, and poor quality of life for both partners, according to her research.

It’ll be hard at first, but try to leave work behind when you’re at home. If your job requires you to be constantly on call, try to set aside at least a half hour for dinner with your family, your girlfriend, or some buddies. Take a break to see the world outside your cube and you’ll avoid burnout, says Dr. Dyrbye.

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8. Your Phone Is Now Your Best Friend
The company-issued cell phone seems like a great idea, but soon you might find yourself tethered to your job well after you leave the office. Keeping the ringer always on can whittle away your psychological and physical wellbeing, finds a recent report from the University of Surrey in the U.K.

(If that’s not enough, here are 7 Other Ways Your Smartphone Is Ruining Your Life.)

“Technologies are supposed to facilitate our life and make us more flexible,” says study author Svenja Schlachter, Ph.D. (c). But being available to the people on the other end of the phone line—versus those right in front of you—causes pressure to mount even more. It also doesn’t give your brain the time it needs to reboot, leading to insufficient recovery, sleep problems, and tension in your relationships, says Schlachter.

So stop letting work third-wheel your family dinners. Reserve time, or certain spaces, to be phone-free. If you habitually check your inbox, your coworkers may come to expect it. And that can result in longer work hours, less sleep, increased stress, and imbalance between work-home lives, the research noted.

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9. You’re Stuck to Your Seat
Take a look at the clock: How long has it been since you actually pried your butt off your chair? Regardless of how much you exercise, the more time you spend sitting during the day, the greater your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, or cancer—or of dying early, a recent study from University of Toronto suggests.

So if you need to spend those extra hours in the office, at least make sure you’re not staying planted the whole time. Build Your Own Stand-Up Desk, or ask HR if they’ll swing one for you. Studies show swapping at least 2.5 hours of sitting time for standing can burn 40 percent more calories—up to 350 in 2 hours!

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10. Your Job Has Become a Literal Pain in the Neck
That uncomfortable crick could become chronic. Workers who logged more than 41 hours a week were more likely to report neck pain than those worked less, finds a new study from University of California at Irvine.

Blame your computer for some of that pain. Here’s a quick fix: Adjust the top of your monitor to just below eye level. Position it there and you’ll keep your spine in line and ward off a twinge in your neck.

(Still achy? Here are 8 Common Pains That Foam Rolling Can Fix.)

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11. Your Heart Is Taking a Pounding
Your ticker can only take so much. Working more than 60 hours a week increases your risk for coronary heart disease by 41 percent, reports a new South Korean study.

But the good thing is a few lifestyle tweaks can help decrease your odds. Swap your vending machine snack for fiber-rich foods like apples or pears. Fiber is linked to a 9 percent decrease of cardiovascular disease, a 2013 U.K. study found. And adding a mere 5 minutes of walking every hour can reverse the adverse effects of sitting, according to a 2014 Indiana University study.

So stroll the office once an hour and you’ll rack up 40 minutes of activity that day. That can be enough to reduce your risk of heart disease by 46 percent, a study in the journal Circulation suggests.

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12. You Blow a Gasket When You Get Home
Too many tasks can change your can-do attitude to hotheaded temper, finds a recent U.K. study. Workaholics were more likely to feel guilt, anxiety, anger and disappointment both at the job and at home.

Cool your temper. Obsessing over perfecting your latest project could mount tension to your breaking point—lashing out at your coworkers, or worse, your wife. Next time you're on the verge of a meltdown, take a breath—or six, to be exact. Taking that many breaths a minute can reduce your blood pressure within 5 minutes, research shows.

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