It seems that in this world of almost instant gratification, people are finding ways to be increasingly busy. As it turns out, Americans work the most amount of hours as compared to the average workers in countries that make up the other major global economies.
The average American works 34.5 hours a week not counting lunch breaks. Adding in lunch breaks and the average national daily commutes, this means that most adults spend 45 hours a week away from home and this doesn’t account for overtime and nights out.
While this might not seem like the hugest chunk of time spent working, especially considering there are 168 hours in a week, you still have to consider the sleep cycle, and many Americans sleep at least five to six hours a night. Altogether, you’ll get roughly 88 hours for quality time with your friends and family in an ideal week.
As a result of this limited quality time, many Americans report that they are feeling more stressed than ever. Stress levels are clearly on the rise.
In an average week do you find yourself:
- Wishing that you had more time for your kids?
- Finding that you’re consistently staying late to put the finishing touches on projects?
- Dreading returning to work during your morning commute?
- Feeling guilty about not seeing old friends more often?
- Starting to feel less healthy due to too much time spent working?
- Constantly bringing your projects home for completion?
These types of desires are indicative of a greater issue: stress caused in the workplace. Fortunately, there’s definitely some hope; in a 2010 study, it was discovered that social relationships actually have positive effects on mental health and overall life expectancy.
This means that regardless of the stress factors of a particular job, our social interactions make life infinitely more livable. Friends and family are the panacea in the reduction of our stress levels.
The Negative Factors of Not Spending Enough Quality Time
We all intend to spend more time with loved ones, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Here are some of the downsides of not spending enough quality time and embracing a busy, stress-packed lifestyle:
- Children can feel the emotional stress as a result of a lack of parental involvement. Failing academics and behavioral problems can result.
- You’ll take on more work because staying late will become more habitual.
- Your friends will gradually reduce their attempts to socialize with you due to your overworking.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some ways that you can spend more time with loved ones and successfully decompress.
1. Plan Quality Time with Family
This might seem like a simplified solution, but actually planning something is important to fostering strong relationships with your family. Seize as much as possible with family, even if this time is after work, on the weekend, or even on lunch breaks if applicable.
Planning outings with family, for example, will allow you to engage in the physical activity that you are potentially lacking behind your desk. In addition to this, just spending time with a loved one has been shown to reduce overall stress, so start planning some quality time with those who are closest to you.
2. Talk About Your Day With People Who Care
There’s a reason they’re considered people who care. Your loved ones are there for you and will understand and want to help if you’re under a lot of stress.
As a matter of fact, a recent study from Canada recently discovered that emotional load sharing with loved ones is a sure way to reduce the stress of the everyday.
Another study found that when people are farther away from those they trust and have no one to confide in, they function much less efficiently.
3. When the Workday is Over, it’s Over
There is a growing trend in the modern workforce of taking home time and changing it into work time. Have you found yourself waking up at all hours of the night because you needed to respond to an important email?
When this happens, you are bringing your stress home and that isn’t helpful in your home life. When it’s time to go home, cease work. The emails will be there in the morning when you log in to your computer and the world won’t end between 2am and 9am.
4. Plan More Vacations
There’s no doubt about it, Americans vacation far less than their European counterparts. Vacations are the ultimate opportunities to spend large swaths of time with those who we are closest to.
Also, taking vacation can vastly reduce stress by itself, but spending time with your loved ones creates indelible memories, which can be a major stress reducer. On top of this, vacationing typically results in heightened activity levels because you are out on excursions with your loved ones and heightened activity is a great way to shed stress.
5. Take Every Opportunity to Hang Out with Non-Work Friends
Spending time with your non-work friends is a great way to keep relationships strong and to reduce stress; as a matter of fact, this study confirms that supportive friends are key to braving the stress rollercoaster.
The study confirmed that people who are going through stressful situations produce less cortisol, the stress hormone, than those who are handling things solo. While you can have great friends at work, too often conversation can drift back to this part of your life, which can increase stress levels.
Don’t let your work and responsibilities overpower your life! Family and friends are there to serve as a natural buffer for the stressful aspects of your everyday, so use them to help shoulder some of the load. Spending time with loved ones is always rewarding and can help you fully decompress after the most stressful days, so don’t forget to put the time in; you’ll find that friends and family could be the cure for your stress.