Life Health & Wellbeing

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Leading scientist - 'Beat stress with four-day week'

Chris Green

Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30

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Professor Ashton believes a four-day week would increase happiness and decrease illness levels. THINKSTOCK images
Professor Ashton believes a four-day week would increase happiness and decrease illness levels. THINKSTOCK images

People should only work for four days a week to reduce their stress levels, allowing them to take more exercise and see their families, a leading public health doctor has said.

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Professor John Ashton, the president of Britain's Faculty of Public Health, said the UK was suffering from a "maldistribution of work" whereby some people work far too hard and others not at all.

Reducing the working week to four days would redress the balance, he argued.

"We need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives, have more time with their families, and maybe reduce high blood pressure because people might start exercising on that extra day," he told the 'Guardian' newspaper.

"When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, (work-related) mental health is clearly a major issue. "We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you've got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven't got jobs. We've got a maldistribution of work. The lunch hour has gone – people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working."

Alcohol

Prof Ashton is keen to raise awareness about the variety of mental health problems that can be caused by overwork.

He added that in some circumstances doing too many hours can cause excess anxiety, drive people to alcohol and cause relationship problems.

"If you've got two people in a couple working, they need to be able to work in such a way that they can spend time together with their children. It's a nightmare," he said. (© Independent News Service)

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