Mita Diran was a baby -- just 24 -- when she slipped into a coma this week and died, shortly after spending days awake and relying on something called Thai Red Bull just so she could work more. The Indonesian woman was a copywriter at a major ad agency in her country and proudly Tweeted about her commitment to work in the days and weeks leading up to her death. Her last Tweet, which she sent on December 14, read: "30 hours of working and still going strooong." Hers is the story of a sad, terrible waste of a young, talented life.
But Mita's work habits are probably not that far off from many of our own. And this heartbreaking story should serve as a wake-up call for some of us.
I know that I, and most of my friends, have been taught to believe that so-called "lazy" people desire more than two weeks off a year and that our smart phones should be on at all hours in case our bosses need something at midnight. Those of us who have babies feel pressure to hightail it back into the office as soon as humanly possible and then keep any evidence of home/baby stress to ourselves while we maintain the same performance levels we had pre-baby (despite running on far less sleep).
Mita suffered from heart failure before she fell into her coma and, despite her young age, it isn't difficult to see why. She practically lived at her job, according to her Tweets, and regularly consummed energy drinks which, in my opinion and based on the fact that I see middle school students downing them at 9 in the morning, needed to be regulated yesterday.
While I understand competition for good jobs in this still frail economy is fierce, it does no one -- not you, members of your family, or your employer -- any good when you run yourself ragged. Here are some quick tips on how to keep yourself healthy when your job and fast-paced lifestyle threaten to make you sick:
1. Promise yourself you will unplug at a certain time each night and stick to it. Whether that time is 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. is up to you -- but make sure you spend at least an hour or two before bedtime doing something other than checking email or your phone.
2. Don't eat lunch at your desk if you can help it. And if you must, take at least 10 minutes afterward to walk around the block -- or even the parking lot.
3. This goes without saying, but do not rely on energy drinks to pick you up. If one or two cups of coffee or tea in the morning aren't cutting it, then you need more sleep -- simple, but true.
4. Make it a point to see friends or family at least once or twice a week and don't spend one second of your precious time with them doing anything but chatting, laughing, and living life (no phones allowed).
5. Exercise. Whether you belong to a gym or only have time to walk your dog, move your body every day and you'll feel stress melt away.
Do you work too much? How do you decompress when things get too hectic?
Image via Sven/Flickr