‘Absolutely physically knackered’: UK workers on intensifying conditions
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‘Absolutely physically knackered’: UK workers on intensifying conditions

Life in the ‘Trenches’: The Intensifying Workday for People Across Professions

As Karen Wilson recalls, when she started her job as a secondary school teacher almost 40 years ago, she had plenty of energy left for her life outside of school. She, like many people, look forward to their evenings and leisurely activities. Sadly, in the last decade, Wilson notes, this is no longer the case. She is one of many people across professions that feel overwhelmed and report that work is more intense than ever.

Wilson works in Clackmannanshire in Scotland, and specializes in supporting children with additional needs, and now works part time due to her retirement on health grounds. Wilson attributes this to the lack of funding support from central government, leading to cuts in staff members and leaving teachers with a hefty workload. Furthermore, with more paperwork, pressure from parents, and taking on the role of a social worker, Wilson says that very few have the energy to do anything else.

Amy Ash, another 31 year-old postal worker in south-west London, says her job has drastically changed in her six years of service. Her postal rounds are larger, with more addresses added. Additionally, as parcel delivery gained in popularity, the postbag weighs much more. This is coupled with the constant fear of monitoring activity, with the introduction of handheld devices to sign for parcels. She notes that she has done between 8 and 12 miles of walking, and surely her body feels the wear and tear.

Unsurprisingly, the human cost of overworking comes with some very serious consequences. From dealing with exhaustion, to losing time with family, the risk of burnout is increasing as we try to keep up with our busy lives. Even Royal Mail, which contends that the devices are only for facilitating fair, manageble and balenced walks, has been unable to take action on the outbreak of overworking across many professions.

It is true that our working lives are filled with stress and pressure, and that with technology and changing times can sometimes bring more erodynamic demands than ever. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that rest and relaxation is just as important as working hard. Only when we take the time to do this will we be able to truly balance our lives in a way that is best for our mental and physical health. It is time to take care of ourselves and step away from the ‘trenches’

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