Anyone who has ever had a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any occupation can have stressful elements – even if you love what you do. From time to time, you may experience pressure in meeting a deadline or fulfilling a challenging task. However, when work stress becomes recurrent, it can be overwhelming – and damaging to both physical and emotional well-being.
In fact, in 2015, an analysis of almost 300 studies found that harmful workplace practices were as bad for mortality, and as likely to lead to a physician-diagnosed illness, as second-hand smoke, a known – and regulated – carcinogen. Harmful workplace practices include long, irregular or unpredictable working hours, work-family conflict, economic insecurity arising from job loss, lack of job control and, in some countries, an absence of health insurance.
The World Economic Forum estimates that chronic diseases consume some three-quarters of healthcare spending worldwide, while non-communicable diseases account for 63 percent of all deaths.
Below are a few tips on how to achieve a better work/life balance:
Learn how to relax. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes every day to focus on a simple activity, such as breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. While it may be challenging at the start, your ability to concentrate without distraction will improve with practice, and you’ll find that you can apply it to various other aspects of your life.
Establish boundaries. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day – whether through email, workplace chatrooms or various social media platforms. It’s important to establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
Take time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, you need time to replenish and return to your pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires ‘switching off’ from work by setting aside periods of time when you’re neither engaging in work-related activities nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind so that you can come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you can’t take time off, get a quick energy boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.
 Behavioral Science and Policy Association, Workplace stressors & health outcomes: health policy for the workplace: https://behavioralpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/BSP_vol1is1_Goh.pdf-month
 World Economic Forum, The Global Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases: https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-economic-burden-non-communicable-diseases-month
 American Psychological Association, Coping with stress at work: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx-month