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The health benefits of work-life balance

Blood pressure is often cited as a factor associated with your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  It is also widely accepted that exercise is a key factor in lowering blood pressure.

And over the past few days, the European Society of Cardiology has revealed the results of a study about daytime sleeping.  It turns out that napping during the day can lower your blood pressure significantly.

In turn, this lowers your risk of having both a heart attack and a stroke.

And yet, when it comes to both sleep and exercise, life tends to get in the way.

I know that work-life balance is topical, it’s always in the news. But what does it really mean?

I’ve got the best possible work-life balance. I now work part-time hours from home. I look after my children full time.

And yet, having the time to exercise is tough. Getting enough sleep at night is virtually impossible and afternoon naps? I wish.

So how exactly are we supposed to stay healthy whilst coping with the pressures of modern life?

Heart disease is the biggest cause of death in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics.

And yet we go to work day in, day out. The days are long, the nights never long enough. The afternoons pass in a tired stupor but of course, there is no time to sleep.

When evening finally comes, we are too exhausted to exercise. Most of us have a drink to unwind. Probably too much to drink.

We live for the holidays. The measly two weeks off work when we get to see our families, unwind and maybe have a bit of time to ourselves.

The holidays go too quickly and we’re back to the grindstone.

These days, we are living longer. But the welfare state has bitten off more than it can chew with the aging population so the state retirement age is increasing as well.

If it doesn’t increase again within my lifetime, I will be 68 when I receive a state pension.

By which time, I will be glad of an afternoon nap. Let’s face it, I’d have one now if I could. But what of exercise?

I like to think that I will still be able to exercise, after all, Sir Ranulph Fiennes ran the Marathon des Sables aged 71 years old. This is widely accepted to be the hardest footrace in the world.

At 35 years old, I struggle to find the time to train for a half marathon. So where are we all going wrong?

I have read about a few companies recently that have started to allow their staff to have unlimited holidays.

Would the next step be to allow them to choose their working hours as well?

I know that I am more productive when I’ve been for a run in the morning. If I ever manage to grab a nap in the afternoon, I can keep going for the rest of the day and late into the evening even if I’ve hardly slept at night.

But when I was younger, my productive work times were completely different.

Nowadays, I work when it suits me. If I am tired or disinterested, I don’t do it. And I am certain that my clients are getting a notably better service because of it.

So isn’t it time that more work places moved to slightly more flexible working hours?




  1. August 30, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    Everything in moderation – great post 🙂 I had a nap today (feeling poorly after a spider bite) and am now knocking back some organic vino because I’m inspired by the story our Biology teacher Ken Haslam told us about the guys who survived shellfish poisoning due to the 8 pints of Newcastle Brown Ale they had consumed.

    • August 30, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Haha good old Mr Haslam! Last I heard he wasn’t well at all, very sad to hear. I hope you are soon feeling better after your bite. And I totally agree about everything in moderation.x

  2. Izzie Anderton
    August 31, 2015 / 5:24 am

    I’m convinced that modern life is far more stressful than it was for our parents’ generation and for that reason it’s important that we take the chance to unwind whenever we can. I love a nap in the afternoon if the opportunity arises and working freelance means that I choose when to work. I think the workplace definitely needs to evolve and I don’t think I could do the hours I used to do in my previous role.

  3. August 31, 2015 / 7:27 am

    Yes!! Now I need to write the flexible working application that will convince my boss of this too. What’s in it for her?!

    • August 31, 2015 / 7:50 am

      Ah that’s great Helena. A more productive employee who is concentrating on work rather than worrying about other commitments, who isn’t exhausted or stressed and who wants to be at work, is focussed on the job and enjoys being there is what’s in it for her.x

  4. August 31, 2015 / 5:53 pm

    Interesting post.

    I think it highlights that everything should be done in moderation. I’ve heard about the unlimited work hours. I’m not to sure about it. As for choosing their own hours, that might work. I think people who do find the balance between work, home and general life is difficult but of within that you can rest. If I haven’t got the boys and feeling drained I do enjoy a brief afternoon nap.

    • August 31, 2015 / 5:56 pm

      Yes I agree about moderation. I find that I’m a lot more productive now I choose my own hours. It’s so easy to sit in front of a computer doing very little when you’re exhausted when what you really need to be doing is resting and starting again when you’re ready to concentrate on it.

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