Work life balance and making health your priority
By Ian Blake, Health and Wellness Partnership Manager at Drinkaware
Last week was National Work Life Week, a campaign by charity Working Families to encourage employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work. It got us talking here at Drinkaware. Research we conducted recently showed us that about one in five people had been drinking more over the lockdown period – that’s about 11.7 million people – and of those, one in 10 said they’d had a drink while working. Worryingly, only slightly fewer (8%) admitted to having had hangovers while working[i].
When it comes to work, no matter what job you do, drinking while working can be unsafe. And working while hungover is equally ill-advised – the alcohol might still be in your system, and the lack of sleep, nausea and headache you feel could all have an impact on your work as well as your health.
The lockdown period had an enormous effect on the country’s workforce. For many people, work life routines have been hugely disrupted. As we enter into another period of restrictions, drinking too much alcohol can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
Here are my top three tips on how to focus on your work-life wellbeing:
Make health your priority
There’s no doubt about it, cutting back on alcohol is a good move – both for your physical and mental health. Reducing how much you drink can help with your sleep and help manage your weight. And if you drink heavily, cutting back will help your body’s immune response[ii].
Putting your health first will help you make positive decisions about things like whether to drink or how much you drink. For example, making a choice not to drink during the week to make sure you get the amount of sleep you need to support your work-life balance is one way to prioritise your health.
Make time to ‘commute’ - even if you’re not commuting
If your work-life circumstances mean than you’re at home more than you’re used to, chances are you aren’t commuting in the same way. Interestingly, 10% of people told us they were drinking earlier in the day than usual over the lockdown. If that sounds like you, however long you used to spend commuting to work, think about how you could incorporate 30 minutes or an hour into your day to switch off from work in the evenings – and make sure you’re not reaching for a glass of wine or beer to signal the end of the day. Remember, while you might think having a drink will relax you, alcohol can make stress or anxiety harder to deal with, and drinking earlier in the day could lead to you drinking more overall.
Instead, when you finish work, put off drinking in favour of an activity you love and that will have a positive impact on your mental health. How about listening to a podcast in the bath, or doing a group exercise class with your family or household?
Don’t be afraid to ask for support
Almost one in five people who told us they were drinking more over lockdown told us they had felt the need to drink to cope with the day. It is not uncommon to drink to cope with feelings of stress or worse. But don’t be afraid to ask for support.
For anyone worried about their drinking or someone else’s, Drinkaware has an online self-assessment that can help identify whether someone should be concerned about how much they drink. For confidential advice, head to Drinkaware.co.uk where you can talk to a professional via chat online or over the phone (0300 123 1110). Or find a list of support services either online or local to you.
Drinkaware offers a CPD (Continued Personal Development) accredited workplace programme that aims to support the existing health, safety and wellbeing agenda of UK businesses. Drinkaware at Work is an awareness course that is designed to complement and reinforce a better understanding of drinking, leading to healthier, safer and more productive workplaces. It is available to do online for employees to complete from their own desks and at their own pace. For more information visit Drinkaware at Work: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/work-with-us/drinkaware-at-work/