Working Long Hours Could 'Double Your Risk Of Developing Depression'
Working long hours at the office could more than double your risk of developing depression, research has revealed.
The study at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that those who spend more than 11 hours a day - or 55 hours a week - at their desk face an increased risk with younger workers, women and those on low pay with moderate alcohol consumption being the most susceptible.
Lead researcher Dr Marianna Virtanen and her team questioned more than 2,000 Whitehall civil servants between the ages of 35 and 55, with a range of jobs, salaries and working hours, all of whom were recruited in the early 1990s.
After following up with the participants six years later they found a significant link between overtime and depression.
Of those questioned, 66 had experienced a "major depressive episode" during the six-year period.
Those who worked 11 or more hours a day were two and a half times as likely to have one than those who worked seven or eight hours.
Men with higher-paid jobs were less affected by depression. The researchers believed this could be because they were more likely to have a job they enjoyed or higher levels of "social support".
Conversely, higher-earning women were more likely to suffer depression. They believed this could be as a result of women juggling multiple responsibilities, such as family, outside work.
Co-author Professor Stephen Stansfeld, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: "People working very long hours may be working less efficiently, and need to be thinking about their health and stress it may be causing in their home life as well."
How To Switch Off After Work
Don't Take Your Phone To Bed
At home, set some rules about when and where you use your smart phone and never take your phone to bed with you as one of my clients, a well-known barrister, would do. He actually slept with the phone switched on and tucked into his pyjama pocket. He had chronic insomnia and problems with alcohol which stemmed from his use of alcohol to help him get to sleep
Switch Off An Hour Before Bedtime
Allow yourself at least 60mins technology free time before you go to bed to 'unload' the working memory before your head hits the pillow. This means not checking email or social networking before bedtime. Never fall asleep with your laptop, iPad or smart phone switched on beside you. These measures will dramatically improve the quality of your sleep - you will need less REM (dreaming and information processing) sleep and have access to more nourishing, deep sleep.
Take Regular Breaks
Take regular breaks throughout the day and roughly on a 90-minute cycle. Get up stretch and go and talk to someone, eat something, focus your eyes on a different plane. If you find this difficult to remember to do then set a timer or use a visual cue to remind you to take a break.
When you are on your laptop or smart phone avoid slumping over your desk or into the sofa. Pay attention to your posture, put both feet on the ground, breathe from your belly.
Take A Lunch Break
Research from chronobiology show that people who take lunch breaks - at least a 20min break away from technology - score higher on cognitive performance.
Meet Up Face-To-Face
Take time to nurture real relationships that are free of technology - this means face to face contact or actually speaking over the phone. Human beings have evolved with a whole layer of the brain which differentiates us from other animals. This layer is called the 'neocortex' and it is used for social engagement and forming relationships. It's where our 'emotional intelligence' comes from. Research is starting to show that people who merely interact by social networking are actually adversely changing the structure of these areas of the brain.
Take Time To Daydream
With instant access to information we seem to have lost the art of daydreaming. The daydreaming process is vital to the creativity process as well as reordering the working memory and rebalancing our energy levels.
Take Holidays And Time Out
Decide on the rules of how you are going to use the technology on holiday. Will you take your BlackBerry with you? Will your check your messages? If so, can you set a time to do this and stick to it so that it doesn't end up spilling over into your break.
Switch Off On Your Way Home
Turn off your phone or laptop 15 to 20 minutes before you get home and use the time to daydream or think about what you are looking forward to when you get home. Again this helps to empty the working memory and creates a vital transition between work and home so that you are able to really engage and be present to what is really important in your life.