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Keeping healthy with the right work-life balance


All work and no play makes this young Cambodian frustrated. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Young Cambodians who are workaholics are more prone to getting sick than others – so it’s time they prioritise and strike a good work-life balance.

Duong Dararith, a former medical doctor and current professor at the University of Health Science, said that he’s seen a spike in the number of stroke patients as of late. He attributes this to stress.

This stress, he said, comes from work and school pressure – his patients don’t have time to relax, and in turn develop high blood pressure and even diabetes from a lack of sleep or bad eating habits.

“Sitting for long periods in the office and eating irregularly cause major medical problems,” he said.

Keo Chan Sothea, 31, who works at Cellcard, has been suffering major bouts of stress from working constant overtime. He’s been experiencing stomach pain and headaches as he struggles to finish the work day, which often ends after 10 at night.

“I feel annoyed with such a heavy workload,” Sothea said. “If I work late at night, I get stressed – I don’t wake up feeling refreshed, either.”

All-work-no-play can also cause some legitimate psychological problems.

Khann Sareth, a clinical psychology lecturer and a counsellor at Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that the more responsibility one has, the more he or she will endure stress. This stress is caused by a lack of sleeping, eating and free time.

Common symptoms of too much stress, Professor Khann said, include aggression, insomnia, high blood pressure and headaches.

“Psychological illnesses are much like physical illnesses,” Professor Khann said. “If the patient does not seek treatment in a timely manner, this stress can develop into depression, and in some cases, even suicidal tendencies.”

Professor Khann explained that time management and positive thinking are key ways to reduce stress. Those who think they may be suffering a psychological illness, he said, should seek professional help right away.

Mey Chanthy, Human Resources Officer at Hotel de la Paix, said she takes manages her heavy workload by putting herself first. She maintains a healthy diet and makes sure to get in plenty of exercise; not to mention, she always finds time to relax when she can.

“Work pressure mostly stems from communication problems,” Chanthy said. “I have to prepare a lot of things for the hotel, which takes a lot of time and energy.”

Regardless, Chanthy does not neglect her health. She makes time to get an annual check-up from the doctor, and see to her health needs.

“Balance is needed in life,” Chanthy said. “Without balance, we’ll face crises with money, relationships and more and we’ll eventually break down.”



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