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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Long Hours Linked To Health Problems And Lower Productivity

Guest Post by Deborah Kohl 
of the Massachusetts Bar

Many people are surprised to learn that mental disability claims due to workplace stress are compensable by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, claims like these are on the rise as people work longer hours and feel the pressure of an increasingly competitive working environment. Recent studies on mental health and the workplace have led researchers to discover that, over time, conditions such as extended working hours and long periods of solitary work can lead to decreased productivity, anxiety, and even major depression.
Employers can create conditions that are more supportive of mental health by taking simple steps like allowing workers to take breaks where socializing is permitted.
While it may seem initially counter-intuitive, studies show that in the long run, policies like these can lead to a more productive workplace. Here are a few tips workers can use to stay mentally healthy at work:
  • Form friendships in the workplace. A positive relationship with even a single colleague can make a big difference in combating loneliness and depression. A friend at your office could provide an ear when you really need to release some steam or just take a mental break from an intense task.
  • That said, make a distinction between work and leisure, and make time for social activities outside the workplace. If at all possible, don’t skip holiday breaks. Take your vacation time; getting away from work for a few days at a time often revitalizes, and gives you a better perspective on things.
  • Take care of your health by getting enough sleep and exercise. Sleep is your brain’s downtime. Research shows that during sleep, your brain uses the opportunity to process thoughts and information that it receives during your waking hours—which is why you often think better and more clearly after a good night’s rest. Meanwhile, regular exercise helps you produce and release hormones that improve your sense of well-being, plus it boosts  blood supply to the brain and other important organs.
Attorney Deborah G. Koh has focused her professional energies on workers’ compensation and disability law in Massachusetts through her over 30 years in practice. She is an active lecturer and author in the field, and has held several prestigious leadership positions, including serving as president of the Workers Injury and Law Advocacy Group. She is perennial listed in the publication Best Lawyers In America. Photo Credit: Ambro /
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