As we head into Labor Day weekend, it’s worth taking stock of how the ever-increasing pressure to work all the time — whether at home or on the job — is damaging virtually every facet of our society. Benjamin Cardullo, a dual citizen of Italy and the U.S., describes just the health impacts alone:
Americans are literally working themselves to death. Forced overtime, over scheduling, commuting, unpaid labor, housework, increased standards of cleanliness, church service, time cost, and media usage occupy so much of our day that no time is left for ourselves, and we glorify this. We use our busyness to stroke our egos, we work all day and fill our free time with additional activities because we’re “important” and no one else can do what we do.
Well this culture of busyness is creating an extremely unhealthy nation, both mentally and physically. CNN reports that health care costs will grow at an average rate of 5.8 percent every year until Nearly $1 in every $5 spent in the United States by 2024 will be on health care, and for a country where 1 out of 5 dollars is spent on healthcare, America is extremely unhealthy.
This maniacal working syndrome isn’t even making us more productive or wealthier. In fact, it’s having the opposite effect:
Mexico—the least productive of the 38 countries listed in 2015 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—has the world’s longest average work week at 41.2 hours (including full-time and part-time workers). At the other end of the spectrum, Luxembourg, the most productive country, has an average workweek of just 29 hours.
The United States ranks fifth, according to the OECD, contributing $68.30 to the country’s GDP per hour worked, countering claims that Americans are the most productive workers in the world. America put in more hours—33.6 per week on average—than all four of the European countries with higher productivity rankings.
Time spent relaxing is the antidote. It helps people manage stress, gain new perspectives, and restore and renew energy.
Sounds like we all have our assignment for Labor Day weekend — and beyond.