Studies suggest British people have some of the longest working hours in Europe. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 13 percent of the UK working population works for 49 hours or more per week.
Yet experts warn working long hours can increase your risk of injury and illness, with one report claiming workers who do overtime are 61 percent more likely to become hurt or ill. Work-related stress – to name just one consequence of the long hours culture – is a significant problem, with around 10.4 million working days lost because of work stress every year in this country.
Other figures from the Mental Health Foundation suggest four out of 10 employees aren’t paying enough attention to other aspects of their life because of work. Working long hours also often means neglecting your friends and family. So to help you find balance in your life, here are five good reasons to clock off on the dot and spend some quality time with your loved ones.
1. Longer life
Having good relationships and strong social ties could help you live longer. So says a review of 48 studies involving more than 300,000 people, which discovered those with the strongest social relationships are 50 percent more likely to live a longer life compared with others who are the least socially integrated. In fact, say the report’s authors, the health benefits of having good social support are equal to those you get from not smoking.
TOP TIP: Organise family get-togethers as often as possible to reap the health benefits.
2. Healthier lifestyle
Surveys suggest the people you love may have a positive influence on your lifestyle. In one poll, 36 percent of people said being close to family and friends helps them to eat more healthily, while almost half agreed that their loved ones make a difference when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle.
TOP TIP: Spend time with optimistic and health-conscious family members if your lifestyle is less than ideal.
3. Less stress
Having a chat with a close relative could help reduce your stress levels, say experts. One study suggests young girls benefit from a boost in the feel-good hormone oxytocin after talking on the phone with their mothers – and it seems logical that the effect may last as you get older (after all, you’re never too old to be comforted by your mum).
TOP TIP: Talk about your worries with anyone you have a close relationship with – if not your mother then your partner, for instance – to help you feel more at ease.
4. Less isolation
Family members may benefit your mental health because it helps you avoid feelings of loneliness, say researchers. One study, carried out at the University of Ulster, suggests spending time with a sister could help you feel happier, while other researchers claim having a sister or a brother could make you more likely to treat others kindly too.
TOP TIP: You don’t have to have a sibling to enjoy the benefits of family relationships. Try organising more time with your partner, children and members of your extended family if you’re feeling isolated.
5. More confident kids
Spending time with your family isn’t just good for you, it’s good for them too – especially your children. Evidence shows that children benefit from higher self-esteem and social confidence when they spend time with their parents. A report published in the journal Child Development also claims teenagers feel better about themselves when they spend time alone with their fathers.
TOP TIP: Persuade your partner and children to unplug themselves from their digital devices and arrange activities you can all do and enjoy together as often as possible.
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