Working long hours is bad for us. There’s a ream of evidence to support that fact. In the short term, it increases stress, depression, and anxiety. And in the long term, it makes us more likely to have to take time off sick, have an accident at work, or burn out entirely. Thankfully, there are numerous things we – and employers – can do to counteract the negative effects.
Stay in shape – Working long hours can raise your heart rate and blood pressure and increases the risk of dying from heart disease, but several studies have shown that staying in shape can remove that risk. Exercise for 30 minutes two to three times a week, keeping your heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of maximum.
Practice healthy eating – It’s understandable that longer work hours may mean you down more cups of coffee, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat healthy when you can. Vitamins are one great way to supplement your diet for the nutrients you might be missing.
Sleep! – Most studies recommend getting between 6 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. It may not always be highest on your to-do list, but a rested person is less likely to be stressed out at work or make a mistake due to exhaustion.
Make friends – Work is much less stressful when you know you have someone to help you out when you need it. Just remember to be there for them when they need your help!
Laugh the stress away – Depressed about being stuck at work or the sheer volume of things you need to do? Tell a joke. Or a funny story. Make fun of the situation. Oftentimes, humor will relieve tension and make those long hours fly by a little faster.
Find way to encourage employee participation – There are many things you can do to make it easier for your employees to take better care of themselves, such as work-sponsored classes, covered walkways between buildings, and even making elevators operate at a slower rate so people will take the stairs. If you provide food, change out less healthy options like donuts and bagels for fruit and granola.
Remember the reward – No one wants to be working long hours, but chances are you’re getting some kind of reward at the end of it. Maybe it’s simply that you’re being paid extra for overtime. Or completing a big project that will improve the practice when you’re finally done. Or trying to impress your bosses to get a promotion. Whatever the case is, being forward-thinking can be enough to keep us going through the end of the day.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
Chris Carraway, DC, DIBCN, CLS
This is a very good article with some simple practical advice. Many doctors I talk to are working harder for less and putting in some long hours. I used to walk out of my office behind the last patient. No more. Every day is a 12 hour day and I am here 2 hours after the last patient.
I would like to add some physical care ideas to your list. Chiropractic care, massage, stretch breaks are all things that can help you cope with long hours.
Also your work ergonomics are important. Get online and do a little research in to work station ergonomics. There are all kinds if tips on making your work station fit you instead of you conforming to your work station. Also do not be afraid to change up your work station. I am getting read to add a second monitor on my work PC for a standing work station to allow me to work sitting or standing.
First, take care of yourself. You will not regret doing so.
Chris Carraway, DC, DIBCN, CLS
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