These days, our working lives are busier than ever. On average, full-time British workers spend 39.2 hours a week at work, according to the Office for National Statistics. On top of this, commuting times have become longer with figures showing that travel to work has increased from 8.3 miles in 2001 to 9.32 miles in 2011 –causing commuters to have lower life satisfaction, lower levels of happiness and higher anxiety compared to their counterparts.
This means that time outside work should be cherished – but this isn’t always the case. A new report from consultancy firm Lansons found that 34% of people admit they are too tired to enjoy life outside of work because of the pressures of their jobs.
The inability to relax and enjoy free time outside work can seriously contribute to stress and issues with mental health. A survey from the Mental Health Foundation found that as a person’s weekly hours increase, so do their feelings of unhappiness, and when working long hours more than a quarter of employees feel depressed, one third feel anxious, and more than half feel irritable.
Work related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year. In order for this number to reduce, and for employees to look after their mental health, ensuring a good work life balance is key. But that can often be easier said than done – so below are a few tips to help you improve your work life balance and reduce stress:
- Take proper breaks at work. Lansons report that 31% of employees are rarely able to take their lunch break; when you do break for lunch, try to get out of the office, even if it’s only for a brief time.
- Unplug from the computer and your phone when you’re not in the office; turn off emails on your devices on evenings and weekends, and take a break from screens. This will help you draw a clear distinction between work and home life.
- Try your best not to bring work home with you to complete in your spare time. If it’s unavoidable, make sure you designate certain areas of your home to working and don’t work elsewhere.
- Speak up at work if you feel as though your work life balance is being compromised. Employers need to be aware of when requests and demands are putting too much pressure on you; only then will they be able to address it.
For more information on getting a good work life balance and coping with work related stress, visit the Fit for Work advice hub, or call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235.