Constant Corporate Communication: Has 9 to 5 become 24/7?
These days, your corporate wellness is almost inextricably linked to your entire wellbeing; if things are going well at work your home life is better, while workplace stress sneakily feeds its way into your relationships and personal time. Somehow, work has infiltrated your entire life, whether it’s because of the constant emails to your smart phone, or the joint efforts of the media and your education which urges you to become as good as or better than the next person. It’s not the nine to five anymore; work is omnipresent.
It’s easy to see how this inability to escape the stresses of work can wreak havoc on your wellness; persistent high levels of stress can result in all kinds of health problems such as a weaker immune system, headaches, stiff muscles and even issues with your sexual health. Then there are the mental health problems; feelings of insecurity, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating and growing dependence on unhealthy coping mechanisms (e.g. smoking, drinking and overeating.) Put that all together, and you’ve got the recipe for a downfall.
According to Michael Hogg, author of The Age-Nostic Man: The Secrets of Anti-Ageing for Men, some employers believe that workers should reduce their own stress levels by making more of an effort to care for their own health and simplify their lives. ‘I have certainly seen cases where the chief cause of stress has been a company and the behaviour of its management,’ Hogg notes. ‘More men are realising that work is not the only source of fulfillment in their life, which can be a major help in fighting against stress. More of us are looking for greater flexibility just as much as women. However, with an ever-changing society, flexibility is becoming much more apparent and not always easy to organise.’
The truth is it’s not as simple as pointing the finger at your work and shouting “that’s the culprit”. You mental health is a balancing act which is affected by a number of different factors. For example, you may have been born with less favourable genes when it comes to mental health, or you may have experienced a major emotional trauma such as losing your job or a loved one. Then there’s the inward pressure you put on yourself – how often do you push yourself to achieve unattainable goals and targets? You may be surrounded by others who inadvertently add to your stress by pressuring you to achieve or do things. Your partner, family members or friends want the best for you, but may be taxing your mental health by encouraging this.
While there are these factors at play in your mental health, there are elements that you can control. As a society, we celebrate “hard workers” and, in this economy, working as hard as you can and getting enough money to support your family is certainly a concern. However, as this inward and outward pressure is taking its toll on your health and personal life, you need to find a happy medium. Hogg elucidates, ‘I did meet a business author and small-time entrepreneur recently who started his own business in his late 30s just so he could have greater control over his own work-life relationship. He had several opportunities to grow the small central operation but declined each time…Making it larger would mean him spending more time doing the things he didn’t want to do.’
You don’t have to quit and start a business just to get a better work-life balance. This weekend, try to cut yourself off from all technology, and take the time to think and re-set your priorities. List the things that make up your life, and prioritise them in terms of what will be important to you over the next 10 years. You won’t have solved your problems by Sunday evening, but focusing on what’s important to you will help to frame your future behaviours.