You may joke at times about your job killing you, but it’s no laughing matter. In fact, there’s a Japanese term that literally means “death due to overwork”. When I first heard the word, karoshi, whilst lecturing in Tokyo, I was sure it was some kind of joke. After returning to Japan, however, I realized that it wasn’t an exaggeration. Almost everyone I encountered knew of someone who had died from overworking.
Through decades of medical practice, I’ve never encountered this phenomenon. Quite the opposite – “hard work never killed anyone” has undoubtedly been the prevailing mantra. Work is stressful, and in Japan it may be more so. But can death occur as a result of hard work? Individuals who are of advanced age and have underlying health problems are at a greater risk of sudden death. It’s extremely rare for a young person without high risk factors, and yet, karoshi is exactly that.
In the late 1980s, when several young business executives suddenly died without any previous signs of disease, Japan acknowledged a strange new phenomenon called karoshi. These deaths were associated with extremely long working hours of 60-hour weeks and more, which isn’t uncommon in Japan. Here’s the interesting part: Japan is one of the only countries in the world that counts karoshi as a separate category for the cause of death. In the United Sates, severe work-related stress certainly exists, but we don’t hear about it because it’s not tracked in the same way. But don’t panic! Here are six tips to help you stay on top of your game and prevent work from “killing you”:
High stress levels at work can ruin pretty much any health goals you have. It causes your body to store more fat and makes it difficult to build and retain muscles. You’ll have less energy and a higher risk of mental illness, heart attack, and stroke. As karoshi suggests, you can literally overwork yourself to death, but it doesn’t have to be this way!
With balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and proper rest and relaxation, you can stay motivated and deliver your best performance at work without wearing yourself out. Fuel your mind and body with an energizing smoothie, made with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. With the Workplace Wellness Kit, eating healthy while at work has never been more convenient and delicious! Combine that with effective workouts and other stress-relieving activities to set yourself up for a longer, healthier, and happier life.