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Health & Balance

24/7 Philosophy Is Creating Epidemic of Weary Workers

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But irrespective of presidential lifestyles, Ulman and Simmerman say that super exhaustion is hazardous to the nation's physical, emotional, and economic health. Simply put: Tired people make mistakes, act irrationally, and are probably not as productive as they claim to be.

Beyond making errors or bad judgment calls, exhaustion can make you sick, says Stephen Lamm, MD, a New York internist who is a frequent guest on radio talk shows and is the author of The Virility Solution.

More doctors are seeing patients whose primary complaints are "feeling overwhelmed or fatigued. Often these complaints can bring on medical consequences or symptoms," Lamm tells WebMD.

Although Ulman and Simmerman say that society heaps praise on those who take a 24/7 approach to their career, Lamm says that attitude may be changing. "If one looks at a profession such as medicine, you can see that attitudes are changing," says Lamm. "Medicine no longer permits doctors to work the kind of hours we used to work." For example, New York law now bans 24-hour on-call schedules for doctors-in-training.

So is there a cure? Yes, say an endless supply of experts offering ways to restore balance in one's life.

Richard Chang, PhD, of Richard Chang Associates Inc., an Irvine, Calif. performance-improvement training company, tells WebMD that most people who claim to be exhausted "haven't found their life's passions." The difference between those who have found their passion and those who haven't is the difference between toiling through a day's work or "being enthralled with what one is doing." Being "enthralled" doesn't mean shorter days at the office -- even more hours may actually be spent at work -- but "you will lose track of time and your energy level will actually be higher."

Taking a cue from the everything-you-need-to-know-you-learned-in-kindergarten philosophy, Chang's first inspiration for a passion-based approach to life comes from his first business: a lemonade stand he started when he was 8. Since then, he's authored two books on his approach, The Passion Plan and The Passion Plan at Work.

Anne Warfield, a consultant who runs Impression Management Professionals in Minneapolis, says that "creating a life plan and then sticking to it" can alleviate hyper exhaustion. The plan, she says, "includes everything you want -- health, family life, career."

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