Work-life balance, and how it affects your health.
In simple terms, work-life balance is balance between work time and ‘you time.’ We live in a world that pressures us to work, work, work. We sleep less, and tend to work more. Medical News Today published an article presenting studies that show the negative health consequences of poor work-life balance (WLB). Did you know studies show that people who work 55+ more hours a week have a 1.3 times higher risk of stroke, than those working standard hours?!
The quick and to the point:
Working long hours = adverse effects on cardiovascular and mental health.
Flexible hours = positive effects on health and well-being
I’m almost 30…I have been working in the healthcare industry since I was 16 as an intern. As jobs changed, and career growth developed it has become harder, and harder to see where the WLB was not. Hoping on and off planes, working through lunch, having my phone on during the weekends. It all seems pretty normal at this point, till I started doing some research.
What happens to your health when you do NOT have work-life balance:
- Less sleep = Damage: higher risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, mental disorders (anxiety and depression)
- A 5 year study found that it is 1.66x more likely a person will develop depression and 1.74x higher they will form anxiety when working 55+ hours a week.
So here I am to tell you, I am one of those people who has developed anxiety. I have never had anxiety or any type of anxious tendencies till my adult life.
Did you know that 4 in 10 Americans say they work at least 50 hours a week?! The consequences of no work-life balance extend into an older age…with the long work hours and the dysfunctional sleep patterns, at an older age: physical function, vitality, and general health is ALL generally poor compared to those who had normal work hours and sleep patterns.
Call out for women, trying to get pregnant.
HUGE DEAL: working more than 40 hours a week may increase your time conceiving by 20?!
Fun fact: Japan created a policy in 2008 to ensure that women have WLB to increase their fertility rate, which is surprisingly VERY important in Japan. (What!? Go Japan!)Countries like Sweden and Denmark have relatively higher fertility rates, have you seen their work-life balance? Minimum vacation time PER YEAR is 5 weeks. Their official holidays…there’s so many I can’t even count on two hands. So why are we as Americans not getting the WLB we need? I’ll tell you why, we are afraid to verbalize that we need that mental health day, or to make those boundaries that will help us keep WLB!
3 tips on how to bring up the conversation with your boss, to maintain/have/keep your WLB:
- Identify your problem and then verbalize it
It is easy to go in and say, hey I don’t feel like I have enough WLB. But instead really do some soul searching, think about what is really stressing you out. For example, late night emails keeping you up at night. Have a meeting to talk about your legit concerns and work together to find your balance that works for both of you.
- Know the facts
Share the stats I shared above, or do some of your own research. You will be able to use that as leverage. Are you not sleeping as well as you used to? Share that!
- Don’t be scared
It is scary talking to your boss about WLB. As an employee you have a right to share where you are concerned, and where you think you are not getting the right amount of WLB.
How to keep work life balance:
- Take a mental health day
- Add down time to your schedule
- Prioritize your schedule
- Move your body! Every 2 hours or so get up and take a lap around your building.
Now go out there, and keep/get your work-life balance!