Australians look online for answer to work-life balance

Workplace stress is driving Australians online to find answers on how to get a better work-life balance.

Stressed Australian workers are turning to Google more than 13,000 times a year to seek support and advice on reducing workplace stress levels, better managing their time and finding solutions to improve their work-life balance.

Global research from health insurer Bupa has revealed that Australians are most likely to link stress to work when searching for help online. Of the top 10 Google searches for stress in Australia last year, eight were work related.

Workplace stress is estimated to cost Australian businesses $10 billion a year in lost productivity and sick days.

‘Work stress’ is one of the most common searches with 1,740 hits a month, while “work life balance”, “how to reduce work stress” and “pressure at work” are also in the top 10 most searched phrases.

People are also turning to Google for practical support – particularly for the best way to manage time. The most searched phrase online related to work and work stress is ‘time management’, with 3,600 searches a month made in the hope of finding a solution to juggling a busy workload with their life outside of the workplace. ‘Time management strategies’ and ‘how to improve time management’ combined are searched more than 2,000 times a month.

Dr Paul Richards, Head of Work and Student Health at Bupa, thinks the large number of searches on ‘time management’ indicates people are looking for solutions to deal with competing stresses.

“Compounding the traditional demands of work and family, there are the added inclusions of an ‘always connected’ job world along with the added distraction of social media affecting where people focus their time and attention” Dr Richards said.

“More and more people are feeling overwhelmed but thankfully are becoming increasingly aware of the need to tackle work-life stressors before they lead to burn out, or the feeling of anxiety and depression.

“There are lots of ways to reduce stress levels, sometimes it is as simple as reducing the number of external stressors in your life or, where that is not possible, learning techniques to deal with the demands or the impact they have on your mental health and behaviours. The good news is these are do-able and can have a positive impact on your friends and family too.”

Five techniques suggested by Dr Richards are:

  • Switch-off when you’re off: try not to check your phone constantly outside work hours
  • Make time for what gives you energy: choose your non-negotiables, whether it be yoga, listening to music or playing with the kids, and plan the rest of your day around them.
  • Learn how to say no: We all want to do as much as we can, but know your limits and be brave enough to push back on things you don’t have capacity for.
  • Try quick mindfulness techniques: Simple breathing techniques such as counting your breaths as they go in and out can help you refocus your day and feel calm.
  • Acknowledge your achievements: Rather than focusing on what you haven’t achieved, take time to recognise what you have.