A 2018 study found a third of corporate Australia is living with stress and anxiety, up from a fifth a decade earlier.
It’s no secret the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of change and uncertainty while increasing those stress levels, but it has also opened the world up to a new way of working that could ultimately change our lives for the better.
Pre-pandemic, we had relatively defined routines and lives segmented into home, commute, work and perhaps somewhere in there, personal time. Now we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity, forced by things outside our control, to review and reset our thoughts around typical work-life balance and the traditional nine-to-five, and ultimately seek improvement.
Health benefits from reduced commutes
A 2019 study showed the average Australian’s commute was around an hour a day. But it’s widely accepted a long commute time can have a negative impact on employee wellbeing and family life.
Commutes of just 16km have been proven to increase blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of depression and anxiety.
These factors, added to the effects of an already stressful job can be a recipe for disaster. Working from home, even if not every day of the week, can not only reduce these risks but give you more time for family life and overall good health and wellbeing practices such as cooking and eating proper meals, regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Greater work-life balance
Australia is ranked pretty low amongst OECD counties for work-life balance, but without an obligation to be in the office every day there is huge potential to change this.
Following on from the above-mentioned reduction of commute time leading to more time for life outside of work, it’s important to switch off and actually make the time for these things, rather than be tempted to devote even more time to work.
Mental health and wellbeing
It’s ok to not be ok, though for a lot of people there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues.
Just as the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of companies to allow easier remote working options, it has led to a proliferation of online meditation and mental wellbeing courses and greater general awareness. With content and support so readily available, now could be the time for you to explore and improve your own mental wellbeing.
Of course, as the world slowly returns to normal, it can be easy to slip back into the old habits of long hours at work and prioritising work over family, family over self. But maybe this is the excuse we’ve all been looking for to make some positive changes.
Start making changes
Rather than dwelling on the difficulties that coronavirus brought, now is the time to start using that energy to improve your life. Take small steps – begin by defining exactly what you want your future to look like, then work backwards to break it up into milestones. By actually taking the time to write out a plan, you are far more likely to achieve those goals and the lifestyle that you desire.