Effects Of Long Working Hours On Your Health and Possible Suggestions To Help

Todays working life

With the way how the world is today, everyone needs to be working double shifts and that’s both partners, just to make ends meet. Having children and the ever-increasing household bills don’t help the situation. Sometimes it seems like the majority of the people are only working to pay their bills and find it difficult to save anything. The situation has gotten so bad that it has its own title, ‘the working poor’. This group has seen a steady increase over the last ten years. This coupled with life’s problems faced by the individuals and families is causing major health issues.

According to a report conducted by the NHS in August 2015 people working long hours are more likely to have a stroke. And by long hours they mean 55+ hours per week, which is the majority of the people here in the UK.

Everyone is aware that working long hours is not good for you, but due to circumstances, some sacrifices have to be made. The phrase ‘don’t work yourself to death’ must have started from somewhere. Even the Japanese, who are known for their hard work, have a word for it, Karoshi, which means being overworked can lead to serious illness or even death.

Apart from your physical health, the other contributor is stress and depression, due to our reduced interaction with family and friends. Majority of the socialising is done during the day and weekends, so people working night shifts or long hours tend to get marginalised because they are not able to participate. Work also interferes with family and marital responsibilities and causes a major strain on the household. This in turns prevents a person from performing at their best at work. This leads to more accidents, feeling tired, not understanding or taking in information fully, more disagreements with colleagues and amongst other things.

Previous studies have also suggested long working hours and long-term consumption of alcohol increased on the job injuries and loss of productivity, the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and more (The University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston). If you add smoking to the list then you increase your chances of a heart attack, emphysema and a large number of cancers. Not to mention an unhealthy increase in weight in most men, due to lack of exercise. The risk to your physical and mental health of long working hours is very high and very long.

Right now it probably seems like we are sacrificing more than just our time to get life’s little luxuries and give our families what they ‘need’. If work is so bad for us physically and mentally then what do we do?

Here are some suggestions……

Now, I know everyone’s circumstances are different and not everything here will be relevant but it’s a good starting point to get you thinking about how you can start making changes. Making any kind of changes is difficult and can feel out the ordinary for you, but I’m sure when you were young you didn’t think you were going to be working all the God sent hours just to survive either. You had to make changes to your life to work those hours. You just have to start thinking differently and put a plan in place. Even if that means changing jobs. Now, the list below, a lot of it is common sense, we tend to just forget a lot of it due to other commitments.

  1. The first thing to consider is prioritising your time for what’s important in your life. Work, family, friends and YOU. Yes YOU, you need time to yourself at least once throughout the day.
  2. Know when you are at your most optimal and work on the most important tasks then.
  3. If you have a busy schedule, plan your day and give time to each activity and stick to it. When its done, leave it and don’t think about it.
  4. Keep an eye on your income and outgoings and try not to overspend or get things that you don’t really need. Portion out your finances and put aside some money for bills, personal, savings etc.
  5. Never think just for the weekend, think long-term, set goals and work towards them. Check how far you got every so often to make sure you’re on track.
  6. Your physical health is important, so join a gym, play a sport, go for walks or do something.
  7. Make time for your hobbies, if you don’t have one, pick one. Learn something different, you’ll be surprised where this will take you.
  8. Each evening before you go to sleep just see how your day went. Did it go to plan, yes, great. No, then find out what went wrong, check it and improve it, then plan for tomorrow.
  9. Be very careful as to what you allow in your head. Try not to allow negative thoughts to linger. If there is something that you can change, then change it. If you can’t change it then change the way you think about it.
  10. Eat healthier. Change your bad eating habits. Try to eat at the right times and cut back on eating processed foods.

If you can think of any other suggestions (and I’m sure you can) then please do add to the list.

Maybe we can take a few lessons from Denmark, as it was ranked number one in the World Happiness Report 2016. One of the keys to their success is that the Danes prioritise life over work, not the other way around. They also have flexible working hours and can often choose when they want to start their workday. The lunch break is set at a designated time enabling colleagues to interact and eat together.

The Danes also work fewer hours than any other country. According to the professor of economics Christian Bjornskov from Aarhus Business School, money is not important in the social life here as for example in Britain or America. We don’t buy big houses or big cars, we like to spend our money on socialising with others.

An adrenalin junky was giving advice on how to get into extreme sports and buying sports equipment when she was told that she can get all those things and do all those sports because she must be rich. Her response was: I’m not rich, you probably earn more than I do. I don’t have cable T.V, a big house, a fancy car or the latest phone because that doesn’t interest me, but I do love sports and the outdoors and that’s where I spend my money. If you choose a large T.V over a bike then that’s your decision.

What will you decide?

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