Keep Yourself Healthy (and Rested) When You're Working Long Hours

It’s easy to fall into unhealthy patterns when you’re working long hours, but just how bad can a 50-hour work week be? A new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that 12-hour work days can lead to serious illness -- the risk of becoming ill for individuals who work 12+ hour work days is increased by 37 percent, researchers found. But if your long work days are unavoidable, here are some strategies from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the International Stress Management Association UK, and the British Dietetic Association for staying healthy:

  • To combat sleep problems and fatigue: set aside time at night to relax and clear your head so your work doesn’t follow you home. When working long hours, take a mid-afternoon break, go for a walk or take a 10-minute nap.

  • To prevent musculoskeletal damage: if you work at a computer or use machinery, make sure you take breaks. Frequently adjust your seat, computer screen and posture.

  • To avoid becoming too stressed: schedule a relaxing activity every day. Make time for reading, warm baths, listening to music and exercising.

  • To steer clear of a poor diet: make time for lunch. Bring healthy snacks to work and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

reprinted from the National Sleep foundation web site in reference to an article in "Occupational and Environmental medicine 2005;62:588-597

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