Our working life encompasses far more than simply a means to make money. For many of us, what we do is a representation of who we are, how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others.
Work allows us to feel like valued and productive members of society and not only gives us a purpose but also is the main stage of our social interaction.
However, when work begins to consume our lives the consequences can be devastating.
Job stress and serious illness
Numerous studies link job stress to heart disease, depression and anxiety, to name but a few. Stress can even lower your immunity, putting you at risk for catching infectious diseases. Some researchers even believe that stress is the root cause or a major component of 60 to 90 per cent of all illnesses in America.
In other words, your job could be slowly killing you…
This is where the concept of a work-life balance comes in. Most people are probably familiar with the idea of trying to strike a balance, however, very few of us adhere to its main principles.
Money versus Happiness
Why do we work ourselves so hard? Why do we stay long hours in a cold office building staring at a lifeless computer screen instead of curled up on the sofa?
Well, for money…
There are contradictory studies and arguments for and against each. A well-known Princeton study found that money did indeed buy happiness, but only to a certain extent.
On average, after a person earned an annual income of around $75,000, their happiness was no longer linked to their wealth. In other words, that figure seemed to represent when most people no longer had to be overly concerned with financial stress and sought other ways of fulfilment.
So unless you plan to win the lottery or you expect a large inheritance in the near future, most of us need to work for our money. So the question is not, does money buy happiness, but how hard am I willing to work? And what am I willing to sacrifice to obtain wealth and the lifestyle I desire? It could mean missing your son’s baseball game. Postponing your 20th wedding anniversary dinner. And spending long hours in the office.
Having said this, sociologist Arthur C. Brooks makes an interesting observation that a higher income doesn’t mean lasting happiness for the individual.
True, that pay raise is great at first but it doesn’t take long before that new level of wealth becomes the norm and you’re back to work, setting ever higher goals.
He points to a study that followed the same group of people over time and found that no matter how much material wealth they accumulated, even if they had reached goals set in their younger years, it was always pushed higher and higher. For example, at 30 they felt success meant owning your own home and a car. A few years later when they’d achieved those things their standard for success was a home, two cars, investment portfolio, boat, private jet, pet Bengalese tiger….
What we should therefore try to keep in mind is that life-goals that are superficial rarely result in becoming truly satisfied.
How to de stress
Okay, pretty obvious but not often deeply considered. Balance means something different to everyone, so sit down and evaluate your work life and social life. Determine what you need to get rid of in order to live a less stressed life.
Unplug and unwind.
It is increasingly difficult to disconnect ourselves from our work lives. But it’s not impossible. Physically unplug your computer if you have to! An important part of this is finding a past time or activity that does not involve a form of electronic communication.
Healthy food = health body and mind.
You’ve heard it a million times and the reason is because it works! Changing your diet can give you loads more energy as well as lift your mood. Not only that but this leads to better work performance too. Also included in this is getting enough sleep. Having between 6 to 8 hours of sack time every night is difficult, but essential.