In Augusts Personal Lines Perspectives, we look at the rising cost of the daily commute, the importance of mental health and minimising back pain at work.
Tips for Reducing the Cost of Your Commute
As the UK continues to return to the way of life before the coronavirus pandemic, one aspect of regular routines that may come back is commuting to and from work. The ongoing cost of daily commutes can become expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to cut these costs and save money while still getting about.
You can save money on your daily commute by:
- Car sharing
- Riding a bike
- Buying a season ticket for public transportation
If it’s difficult to find an alternative form of transport to get to work and you have to use your own vehicle, here are a few suggestions you should consider to cut your fuel costs:
- Drive more efficiently by lowering your overall speed and changing gears earlier so you will burn less fuel.
- Try to avoid using air conditioning unless you have to, such as during the hottest summer months; it can burn a surprising amount of fuel.
- Arrange your schedule to avoid rush hour. By spending less time sitting in traffic, you can save on petrol.
- Check your tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres can significantly increase your fuel consumption.
The Importance of Taking a Mental Health Day
While taking time off due to physical illness is a familiar concept, employees should also consider doing so to maintain their mental well-being. Even the most committed and hardworking employees may eventually find themselves struggling with the daily grind, which may lead to burnout and various mental health issues.
If you find yourself experiencing burnout or having other problems, it’s important to consider the value of taking a day off to take care of yourself. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a rise in mental health problems in the UK. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, the proportion of UK adults experiencing depression nearly doubled during the pandemic.
People who are struggling with their mental well-being may exacerbate their conditions by working themselves too hard. Furthermore, working when you are unwell can lead to performance issues, reduced productivity, and damaged relationships with colleagues.
Consider taking a mental health day if you notice yourself experiencing the following issues:
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Significant levels of stress
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Feelings of irritability or frustration
Consider maintaining an open and honest dialogue with your manager or supervisor regarding your mental health. Lying or making up a different reason for taking a day off may lead to even more stress or other problems. Consistent communication can also help managers understand your current state of mind; changes or adjustments may be made to your workload or schedule, potentially reducing the need for further mental health days in the future.
When taking a mental health day, try to make the most of it by finding ways to be productive not related to work, such as:
- Catching up on chores around your home
- Eating healthy foods
While it may be tempting to spend a mental health day eating unhealthy foods or lying on the couch, this may end up making you feel like you’ve wasted your day off.
Minimising Back Pain at Work
According to the Labour Force Survey, back injuries are among the most common injuries in UK workplaces. In 2018-19, back injuries accounted for approximately 15 per cent of employee injuries. As an individual gets older, they are more likely to experience back pain. That being said, it is critical to be aware of what may cause this discomfort and take steps to prevent it.
Common causes of back pain include:
- Slouching in your chair or having poor posture
- Experiencing frequent fatigue
- Working in a cramped or disorganised area
- Engaging in excessive twisting or reaching
- Using chairs with a lack of support
- Exercising too much or too little
You can take several different steps to alleviate the risk of sustaining back pain in the workplace. Some precautions that may pertain to your work area include:
- Position everything within arm’s reach.
- Adjust any computer monitors to be at eye level.
- Make sure your monitor brightness isn’t too dim.
- Adjust the font size on your devices to avoid having to lean forward.
- Select a chair with adequate height, comfort, and support.
Having good posture is also critical to avoid back pain. Some tips for improving your posture in the workplace include:
- Keep your head and shoulders aligned.
- Position your back against your chair’s backrest.
- Ensure your feet remain flat on the ground and keep your knees at a 90-degree angle while sitting.
- Bend at your knees rather than your back when lifting items.
- Use hands-free devices, such as a headset or speaker.