Have you heard of the term karoshi? Karoshi is a Japanese term which can be literally translated into ‘overwork death’. It is a phenomenon that is increasing in numbers worldwide, where workers are dying from stress, heart disease and starvation- all because they are obsessively overworked.
Perhaps you think that this is just a Japanese phenomenon. Well, think again. Recently, local entrepreneur Christy Ng stated that a three-month maternity leave is too long and decreases productivity. A Twitter thread that earned a response from ministers and even the Malaysian Queen was to a teacher who was denied a job due to his mental health condition.
More than ever, our generation is overworked and tired, yet forced to give more than we can- just to earn a living. Employers pay minimum wage for overtime and demand 100% quality. Employees are missing doctor’s appointments, weddings and funerals just to meet deadlines that never end.
Before being CEOs or janitors, our first role is to be human. Here are some ways we can choose to exercise self care, in a world that is increasingly telling us not to.
- Remember your worth
No decent person wants to intentionally do bad work. Most if not all of us workers want to give our best, but sometimes get shot down by our superiors which is damaging to our self esteem. When this does happen, ask yourself- did I give my best? Is this a fair remand? If you have done your best and feel that your superiors are being unfair, don’t be afraid to voice it to them directly or to HR.
Too many good employees have been lost because of bad bosses. Work aside, don’t be afraid to fight for your rights. When on sick leave, exercise your right to rest- that’s what a sick leave is for! When on holiday, feel free to turn off your phone. You have a life outside of work, and a heart as well. No job is worth more than you are.
- Have a schedule- and stick to it
Obviously, you don’t want to be an irresponsible worker either. When we say to set a schedule, we mean to plan your year in advance, or perhaps a quarter if that’s reasonable. Plan for the days that you will have to take leave for, and budget a few days if you’re prone to falling ill. Then, sort out your days so that you have enough time to replace your work, or do replacement work days if that’s what your company does.
Letting your boss know about your schedule ahead of time shows them that you are not only responsible, but that you value both work and your life outside of it. This will help them give you work at appropriate times. If you find that they still don’t respect that, then...
- Know that there are better jobs out there
There is a saying that goes, money is a good servant but a bad master. As much as we think that we need to stay at our jobs because we need the money, the reality is that there are dozens of jobs where you can earn about the same living, but be in an environment that is less stressful.
Whether your issue is your boss, your colleagues, the workload or the field of work in general, identify where you are struggling and seek to find a job that eliminates that problem if it cannot be solved internally. You might be trading in a big paycheck for a more modest one, but your wellbeing and ability to live your life is more valuable than all the money you can make.