Industrial psychologists have found several risks to overworking yourself.

A woman yawns while sitting in front of her computer at work.Few of us want to work two jobs. But sometimes we have to. Maybe you’re getting your own business started from home while you work a full-time job elsewhere, or maybe you’re working a day shift and a night shift to make ends meet. Whatever your reason for holding down multiple jobs, you no doubt feel as if you need to. The question is: Is your extra work hurting your mental health?

Experts in industrial and organizational psychology (I-O psych) have looked into this very question. While the issue is complex, working a lot does appear to have some real, negative consequences. These include:

Depression

A study on long work hours has found that those who work more than 11 hours a day are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than those who work regular hours.* This is likely because most people who are working a lot are doing so out of a sense of obligation. They would rather not be working and this causes serious psychological stress. Interestingly, those in upper management positions do not suffer increased rates of depression with increased time at work. This, too, seems to come down to an issue of control. Top-level workers have more control over what they do and when they do it. They’re also better rewarded, which can play a role in easing psychological stress. As such, working two jobs could be fine for your mood as long as you feel as if you’re in control of your decision to work.

Heart Disease

Can poor mental health lead to poor heart health? It can when stress is involved. In fact, the stress of working 3–4 hours of overtime for a prolonged period of time can increase your risk of heart disease by 60%.While the disease is presumably caused by stress-related high blood pressure, the symptoms are often missed as the higher pressure typically occurs at work and not at the doctor’s office. This means that when working extended hours, you should closely monitor your heart health.

Sleep Problems

Not only can stress cause us to sleep poorly, but working a night shift of any kind can also lead to poor sleep.§ This is because working nights interrupts our natural circadian rhythms. A lack of sleep and its resulting can negatively affect our mood, impair our judgement, weaken our defenses against disease, and increase our chances of heart disease and even cancer. If you’re adding a night shift to your daily work, you should keep these potential consequences in mind.

Higher Incidence of Mistakes

We all know that when we aren’t clear-headed, we’re more likely to make mistakes. And working a lot is one of the things that can make us less than clear-headed. In fact, people who report being overworked are 20% more likely to say they make lots of mistakes on the job than people who don’t feel overworked.** This can be dangerous for those who work physically demanding jobs. But it can also cause problems for those who are simply sitting at a desk. If you’re going to work two jobs, you need to be on guard for making the kinds of mistakes that may lose you one—or both—of those jobs.

How Can You Learn More About Industrial and Organizational Psychology?

If you want to learn more about how our work environments affect us psychologically, you should consider earning an MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. This master’s in psychology is specifically focused on workplace psychology and can prepare you for a psychology job in research or in the human resources division of an organization.

Of course, industrial psych is not the only psychology career—or psychology degree—focused on workers and workplaces. If you want to help people get through the stresses of work, you could earn an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and enter career counseling, helping people explore career choices and work through issues with their jobs and mental health.

Best of all, you can earn either of these degrees through an online university. Why is this an advantage? Because online learning affords you a level of convenience and flexibility you can’t find at a traditional campus-based college. Instead of attending classes at a specific time and place, I-O psych and clinical mental health counseling online programs allow you to complete most of your coursework from home and on a schedule that can allow you to continue working full time. This, in turn, makes it more possible than ever before to finish an I-O psych or clinical mental health master’s degree program. It’s what makes online education such a popular choice among working adults. And it’s what can help you take your career to the next level.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology degree program and an online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*M. Virtanen, S. Stansfeld, R. Fuhrer, J. Ferrie, M. Kivimaki, Overtime Work as a Predictor of Major Depressive Episode: A 5-Year Follow-Up of the Whitehall II Study, PLOS, on the internet at , http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0030719
†M. McMillen, Working Long Hours Doubles Depression Odds, CNN, on the internet at www.cnn.com/2012/01/25/health/working-overtime-doubles-depression.
‡R. Nauert, Health Problems from Working Overtime, Psych Central, on the internet at https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/12/health-problems-from-working-overtime/13752.html.
§M. Price, The Risks of Night Work, Monitor on Psychology, on the internet at www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/night-work.aspx.
**J. Casey, MSW, Effective Workplace Series, Work-Family Information on Overwork, Sloan Work and Family Research Network, on the internet at https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/sites/workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/files/imported/pdfs/EWS_Overwork.pdf.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

The MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.

Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) as a mental health counseling program under the 2001 standards. CACREP is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and CACREP accreditation is a requirement for licensure in many states.

The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Walden enrollment advisors can provide guidance on licensure issues, however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all state licensure requirements. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure.

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