Individuals who are stuck in the rat race are more than just
unhappy—they’re actually negatively affecting their health and
well-being. According to a recent Forbes article, individuals who hate
their jobs face some serious consequences, including increased risks
for stress, sleeplessness, illness, and mental health issues.
[The Job Network; bolding mine]
Merriam-Webster gives the noun:
the rat race noun:
the unpleasant life of people who have jobs that require them to work
very hard in order to compete with others for money, power, status,
She is quitting the rat race to spend time with her family.
And Wikipedia explains the metaphor:
In an analogy to the modern city, many may see citizens, as rats in a
single maze, expend a lot of effort running around, ultimately
achieving nothing meaningful either collectively or individually. This
is often used in reference to work, particularly excessive or
competitive work; in general terms, if one works too much, one is "in
the rat race". A key aspect of the rat race is being inflicted on the
individual by uncontrollable outside forces such as researchers in the
case of literal rats in a laboratory maze, or the inherent logic,
pressures and incentives of contemporary businesses and society (e.g.
productivity, acceleration, status). This terminology contains
implications that many people see work as a seemingly endless pursuit
with little reward or purpose (cyclical commute between home and work,
akin to a rat running in circles or in a hamster wheel).
A similar metaphor is being stuck on the treadmill.
From The Cambridge Dictionary (it's both reassuring as regards their sampling methods and worrying result-wise that they list the metaphorical usage first)
- any type of repeated work that is boring and makes you feel tired and seems to
have no positive effect and no end:
There were days when having kids seemed like an endless treadmill of feeding, washing, and nappy-changing.