Karoshi: what kind of society do we live?

For a while now there is a lot of talk about the distribution of our day, which includes work, leisure time and rest time. The debate appears when we begin to realize that we dedicate a large part of our time to work and how it feels incompatible with a rich and full personal life. We start from the basis that the human being is not biologically trained to be seated eight hours, concentrated to the maximum, in front of a computer. Otherwise he would die of fatigue. In fact, of course, in Japan, many cases of people dying from overwork have been registered and documented for years. They even have a word for it, karoshi. After working intensively (with overtime included) for thirty days or more, your body begins to register failures such as strokes or heart attacks, and they die. In what kind of society do we live that there is even an invented word to describe this phenomenon?

How to know when my body needs a break?

The psychologist Antonio Mateo, explains that there are no symptoms that irrevocably identify the moment when our body cannot take anymore. We can make a slight generalization saying that, possibly, if we reach that extreme we will begin to feel fatigue, difficulty in concentration, difficulty in planning, in making decisions, etc.

The system of ”peaks and valleys

The problem is we have little awareness of our own body and we do not know how to identify the signals that our organism gives us. Mateo says that we must learn to identify these signs and that at the minimum alert we try to cure it.

Then there are logical facts, for example that, we cannot be more than an hour solid at full capacity. The ideal is not that we stop every hour, but that we work what we call “peaks and valleys”, that is, moments of concentration more or less critical. In other words, the key is to intersperse hard tasks with more light ones.


All that we are explaining, evidently, is a generalization. Each person has its own rhythm and way of functioning; the important thing is to recognize it. The ideal would be to organize our routines and time being aware of the way we operate.

Regarding the amount of hours we should work or dedicate to leisure, the psychologist tells us that there is no key number, that through sheer power we can work all the hours we want, yes, provided we are allowed to lead a satisfying life. Leaving work at ten o’clock at night and entering at eight o’clock is not productive or adaptive.

By way of conclusion, remember what we have said so many times, one of the most important things (and the  one we have most need for) is to know ourselves, know how our body works, listen to it and try to flow and adapt as things happen.

If you liked this post and now you already know the meaning of karoshi, you can check our blog and discover more interesting articles about healthy lifestyle, nutrition and food supplements.

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