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Finding a work / life balance

All of us can be at risk of overworking and underplaying the impact this can have on our mental health. The work culture in the UK is becoming increasingly demanding. Whether it’s officially increasing working hours, or simply the pressure to be seen to be available at all times, we all seem to be working harder especially while working from home.

Improvements in technology mean that none of us really get the chance to “log off” or down tools. You may well physically leave the office at 5pm or instead of logging off your computer after working from home, you just shut the lid (sound familiar)?

But are you still responding to emails at 8pm on your phone or opening your laptop just to check them?

  1. Did you know that the more hours you spend at work, the more hours you spend thinking about it outside of work?

  2. This means that not only are you physically spending more time being present at work, but you are consequently spending more time emotionally and mentally on work. Despite potentially being outside of the working environment at the time.

  3. All of this means that there is less time being spent on personal pursuits; whether that be leisure activities or quality time spent with family. Even when employees are physically active with their families, they may be mentally absent, which does no one any good.

  4. As working hours increase, so do feelings of unhappiness. A MH survey found that:

  • 27% of employees asked felt depressed when working long hours

  • 34% were left feeling anxious

  • 58% were irritable.

  • 40% of employees felt they were neglecting other aspects of their life because of work.

What can we do to combat this?

  • Schedule your working hours if you work from home. Never has keeping a healthy body and mind been so vital. Aim to treat your working hours as if you are in the office, and try to stick to them. It’s important to discuss how you will work from home, and perhaps set some ground rules to allow you to maintain your work–life balance.

  • Create a morning routine, although it can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, a morning routine will help you get into a ‘working’ mindset and mentally prepare you for the day ahead. Also, establish a dedicated working space, in an ideal world, this would be a dedicated desk away from where you sleep or relax, but during a pandemic you just have to do your best. Mark the end of your working day, as at the start, it’s important to mark the end so that you can switch off from work, ‘go home’ and relax.

  • Take regular breaks, just like at the office, remember to get up and move around. Try to limit the time you spend reading the news and on social media during the breaks, particularly at the moment, because reading the news on coronavirus makes me feel anxious.

  • Keep yourself hydrated and try to eat healthily. Make sure you have a good lunch break away from your work space. It’s very tempting to snack all day when you work from home, but it’s not healthy in the long run.

  • Exercise and get fresh air, go for a walk outside once a day.

  • Prioritise social interactions, at home, you won’t just bump into your colleagues in corridors, at the coffee machine or the printer . Don’t underestimate the importance of these interactions, both for your own mental well-being and that of others, and for your work. Schedule times to catch up with your colleagues, friends and family even if it’s a virtual call. If you are still working in the office make sure you get outside for a walk during your break​ and try not to take work home with you.

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