On July 25, 2013 Miwa Sado, a reporter for Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, had died from congestive heart failure — meaning her heart had grown so weak it couldn’t pump enough blood round her body. She was 31, found dead in her Tokyo apartment, clutching her mobile phone. She had clocked up 159 hours and 37 minutes of overtime at work in the month until her death, and 146 hours and 57 minutes in the month before that.
This is not the only case: A 35-year old Indonesian anaesthesiologist is found unresponsive in a hospital ward in Jakarta. He worked several days without a break to cover his colleagues’ shifts during the Hari Raya season.
Overworking is stressful, and the medical world has long confirmed the toll on both physical and mental health. Numerous studies have linked stress to health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Yet Singaporeans are still always working long hours on the job, but on the brighter side, our government are trying to adjust the number of hours we are working per week.
Are you one of those who have difficulty unplugging?
The compounding pressure to perform is not only hurting to your physical and mental health, it can cause damage to your relationships too. “Work-Life Balance” can be subjective to different individuals, however, we curated 5 ways on how you can strive towards work-life balance that will help with your wellbeing.
5 Tips on Improving Work-Life Balance
1. Accepting imperfection
Very often, we tend to compare with our peers. In the results-oriented society, many of us may face pressure to become better than others. Stress is the by-product of strong competition.
Constantly striving for perfection can become destructive, while a healthier option is to strive for excellence instead. The key is in letting go.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”– Aristotle
2. Disconnect your work after working hours
Right now, with technology so close to us, it is inevitable to reply emails and texts after working hours. We have our smartphones, laptops and tablets easily accessible, hence it is not easy to touch them and reply work-related queries. Unless your job states you need to be there 24/7, it’s best to unplug once you’re out of the office.
Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, advised everyone to avoid texting or spending work emails when spending time with family or friends; make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, one will also develop a stronger sense of control over one’s life, which helps to reduce stress.
3. Exercise often
What is one thing many people forgo when their schedules become packed? EXERCISE! However, exercise has long been confirmed to be an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through our body, and it can even help put us in a meditative state, calming and clearing to our mind. Don’t “run away” from your friends that ask you to work out.
Another tip is to invest in a quick five-minute meditation session every day. Deep breathing exercises can ground your senses. It helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm yourself down.
4. Limit time-wasting activities and people
Identifying our priorities in life can help us devote quality time that will move us closer to our priorities. This will reduce the time spent on unnecessary activities. Draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.
Awareness is the first step – we can start by being more conscious of the time spent on social media. It allows us to be more efficient at our workplace, and we will not have to bring work home because of that.
5. Start small and build up
If you are looking for drastic changes for your work-life balance, it will not be realistic. Drastic changes like cutting work hours from 80 hours a week to 40 hours, or running 5 kilometres every day, will not be sustainable. The short-lived burst of enthusiasm will fizzle out very quickly.
Happiness is the new rich.
Inner peace is the new success.
Health is the new wealth.
Kindness is the new cool.
We need to learn how to prioritise our well-being more than anything else. Always remember that you are not alone – The Ladies Cue is here to support you in attaining a work-life balance and your pursuit of happiness and self care.
To join our webinar on Work-Life Balance, Is it a Myth, click here.