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Does hard work kill you?

Posted by Michael Mahoney on

Years ago it used to be said that hard work never killed anyone; when in reality it did!

 The idea that it didn’t may have come from the landowners of earlier times when convincing the labourers in the fields that working from dawn to dusk was all right and good.  In fact they had no choice, but the workers of course knew their life expectancy was limited. The constant bending and heavy labour took its toll on the body. As well as the strain on muscles and bones, it may have also caused digestive disorders and other internal problems due to the constant bending. They may have also experienced a variety of accidents due to exhaustion and lack of sleep.

It wasn’t only the landed gentry who spread the idea that hard work was good for you, and to a point it is, within reason and with regular rest periods.

When the industrial revolution arrived, hard labour became the norm within industrialised towns, creating wealth for the few as the owners of the cotton mills, the steel industries, and early chemical companies all got their pound of flesh from their employees, until the workers banded together, and began to question the unfairness of it all; they realised that they needed to do something to create a change, and over time the unions began to exert influence for their members.

Let’s whizz forward now to modern times.  Does hard work still kill people?  To a point yes it does, but now the factories have changed, and the mechanization of farming has also changed the extent of manual labour on our farms.

Now we have the plight of nurses and doctors in the NHS sacrificing them selves to make the system work; and the same could be said for employees in many other work sectors too.  High levels of stress and anxiety are rife in our technological world, so are people any better off, are they any happier or healthier now?

We now have sedentary lifestyles, which are as much, if not more of a killer; how does that compare to working the relentless days of scything in the fields, or the sweat soaked toil in the steel industry?

Lifestyles have swung the other way, with millions of people sat at computer screens from dawn to dusk, no time for sport, exercise, family life, socialising (in person not on social media).   Increasing conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiac disease, which are indeed killing people, but perhaps more slowly - Its death in slow motion!

Bodies are slow to adjust to ever changing lifestyles, so how can people hope to live happier lives when modern life is increasing the demands on them; the constant beck and call of the computer screen; home lives sacrificed by longer working areas, such as for nurses and doctors who keep a breaking system working at their own personal cost?

Right now, people need to recognise that their bodies are under attack, constantly. The body is not designed for sedentary living and constant stress, without a safe release valve, instead of bottling it up; the chemicals which would normally be released in naturally occurring responses to situations, instead go coursing through the body, causing damage as it goes. The slow motion path of a physical death is underway.

So what can be done!

Firstly, recognise that you are precious and valuable, a unique, one of a kind individual; and form a contract with yourself that, each day, there will come a time when we you say enough is enough!

Employers these days will always want more, so don’t feel guilty about leaving work when you should.  All those extra twenty minutes you put in can cause damage to the mind and body, because you know you should be away, living your life outside of work. You’re already tired and those extra 20 minutes a day over a year equal 80 hours!!  Nearly 3 extra weeks work for free.  Well, that is free to your employer; the price you pay is time away from your children, partner, missed social events, extra stress and demands placed on you by yourself and others, trying to please everybody, and pleasing no-one, especially yourself!

If you aren’t in work, then take a day off from beating yourself up about it. Even just for a day.

Whatever your life circumstances, there will be many readers who know that they need to look after themselves a bit, or a lot more!

When you decide to do something different, you are helping yourself.   Think about downloading some of our meditations and other mind and body recordings to relearn to relax and let go. Remember releasing and relaxing is an art form, which you need to practice, especially as it’s taking time for you!! So persevere.

Get more exercise, have fun, get more sleep, eat healthily, and above all remember you have an important purpose in life; which maybe it is now time for you to learn more about, to start to increase your awareness that there is so much more to life than the everyday slog.  To be more open to that, it is important that you are more rested and relaxed so you can be open to signs you may be presently missing.  Then and only then, will you feel able to say “No, hard work doesn’t kill me – because I’m doing something to protect myself now!”

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