Experts from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) have recognised the damaging effects of overwork, both on health as well as productivity, and have called for the working week to be cut over time to 30 hours per week.
The independent think-tank made their argument for shorter working hours in a new book, Time on Our Side, citing Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany as examples of countries who have made changes like these without weakening their economies.
They are calling for companies to give workers more time off instead of pay rises, and say that more free time will ease the burden on families who have to juggle work and family responsibilities.
Anna Coote, head of social policy at the NEF said, “We all know the saying ‘time is money’, but it is much more precious than that… Having too little time to call our own can seriously damage our health and wellbeing, our family life, friendships and communities”.
Are you working yourself to death?
The book comes at a time when our fragile global economy and fears over job security mean that people are working longer hours than ever before.
The last report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in 2011 showed that full-time UK employees work longer hours than the European average. The UK average was 42.7 hours, with some workers topping 52 hours a week.
The link between the stress and high blood pressure has long been recognised. A study published in the Journal Hypertension back in 2006 found that the risk of high blood pressure increases in proportion to hours worked, and showed that people who work more than 51 hours a week were 29% more likely to develop hypertension than people working 39 hours per week.
Even those working one extra hour – 40 hours per week – were found to be 14% more likely to get high blood pressure!
Clerical and unskilled workers were found to be most at risk, which led researchers to suggest that mentally stimulating jobs may provide some protection against the risks.
Why you need to take action to help yourself
Even though European Law supposedly imposes a maximum of 48 hours per week, there are countless cases of employees feeling pressured to ‘opt out’ or work harder to compensate.
The UK Trade Union Congress (TUC) estimates that UK employees currently contribute more than £29bn in ‘unpaid overtime’ each year, and skeptics have suggested that a shorter working week would only push working hours further ‘underground’ by increasing the amount of work people take home.
And as a study into the effects of South Korea’s Five-Day Working Policy showed, a shorter working week makes no significant impact on overall job and life satisfaction when employers can simply increase the intensity of work or give less holiday time to compensate for a shorter working week.
So you could die waiting for employers to finally recognise that happier, relaxed employees are more productive and take fewer sick days than stressed out, overworked ones.
Hidden stressors lead to high blood pressure
At Hypnotension, we help people recognise and deal with the emotional and lifestyle factors underpinning high blood pressure so they can lower their blood pressure naturally.
Hidden stressors, such as being overburdened by things which are out of your control, can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, which is why (we suspect) jobs which allow you to think for yourself are generally less likely to lead to high blood pressure than clerical or so called ‘unskilled’ jobs.
In our experience, even the act of taking positive steps to help yourself can give you enough sense of control to make a difference.
So even if you can’t change how things are at work, you can begin to change the way you respond so that it becomes less of a source of stress.
That’s often easier said than done, however, so our network of Certified Hypnotension Practitioners are standing by if you need any help.