When Monday morning roles around and you stumble out of your comfy bed, you may be dreading the weekly slog ahead but could it actually be good for your health?
The summer holidays are officially behind us and the nation is knuckling down to work. But could getting back behind our desks actually help in living a long and healthy life? Well a number of studies seem to think so.
A review of over 400 scientific studies on the relationship between work and health has revealed that the characteristics of work – social interaction, activity, identity and status – are in incredibly beneficial to our physical and mental health; with people in work tending to lead happier, healthier lives than those out of work. Furthermore, people suffering from conditions such as back pain, stress, depression and high blood pressure find that returning to work helps them to recover better. Work can actually be therapeutic for people who are sick or disabled, promoting faster recovery and rehabilitation, and reducing the risk of long-term incapacity.
The physical exercise as a result of working, no matter how small, is going to help to lose weight, combat health conditions and even improve your mood. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that will leave you feeling happier and more relaxed as well as sleeping better.
The mental stimulation associated with working is highly beneficial to a positive frame of mind. The feeling of achievement that comes from completing a task or doing a job well promotes good health by releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline. “Our body looks to experience these chemicals on a daily basis,” says stress counsellor Mary Barton. “It’s a satisfying feeling and our body’s incentive for having babies, moving house, falling in love or simply getting up in the morning.”
Spending time at work also helps on a psychological level by creating a sense of self. This can be very successful in combating depression and other related conditions. Working in a team and contributing to something outside of your own personal goals will feel rewarding and build a sense of purpose. Susan Weinschenk, PhD, author of “How to Get People to Do Stuff” says of the link between working and improved health “If you can approach your work creatively, then work is an outlet for creativity, which keeps you positive and engaged in life”.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise however, as it has long been known that working is good for your wellbeing. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (BCE 551-479) acknowledged the relationship between job satisfaction and improved wellbeing when he famously said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”