Almost every person over the age of 18 knows, and maybe even lives through, the struggle of "workaholism." The term was created in the 1970s to describe people who feel pressured to always be working, always think about working and go out of their way to do more work than necessary. It's an addiction to work, and it's slowly killing our generation.
Millennials are often criticized for being lazy because "life is only as hard as you make it." However, what these people don't realize is that they have inadvertently created a culture of overworking. Companies value employees that put in more hours for the same task; in turn, these employees work even more to hold onto that feeling of success. They lose their enjoyment of life and only focus on the work that needs to be done. They burn out. This can lead to conditions like performance anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and loss of sleep as they put their lives on the line for one result.
The scariest thing is that this training for a life of work starts in childhood. We're told our whole lives that if we want to have a fulfilling life with a great career, we need to work hard. We are pushed to do well in school, to put it over our mental health and not risk it for anything. We are told that we have to go to college and pursue every internship and job offer just so we have a chance in the real world. Those people, usually our parents, mean well, but they don't see how workaholism has affected us as a society.
As a college student, I understand firsthand the problems with workaholism. I've seen many friends pull all-nighters for days in a row just to finish their work or attempt to do some extra studying. Then, they go to class, go to their job, go to a lab, and their time for homework is completely used up. The cycle repeats itself. In some ways, I think this is partly due to imposter syndrome. Many students, myself included, feel like they can't compare to their peers, and that they must work harder to be doing enough.
Truth be told, I don't know how or if this culture can be changed. But awareness is the first step. It's not going to kill you to take a break every once in a while, but working for 24 hours straight might. Do something different for a change. Go see a thrilling movie or a heartwarming book. Value your own health and listen to your body. There's nothing wrong with wanting to do a good job or studying hard to get a good grade, but there are limits to everything.
Workaholism is an epidemic that can't just be tackled by self-care tactics. It speaks to the systems we've put into place which give employers too much power over their employees' lives, or how every step of your life is determined by how well you perform on a test. So while there isn't much we can do to combat that right now, just know that you don't have to overexert yourself every second of the day.