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VicHealth: Time: A Social Determinant Of Health

Time is a valuable commodity that is measured and controlled, and we can often decide how it is spent. Time is commonly measured in monetary terms, but it can also be measured in terms of health. How we use our time affects our mental and physical health and wellbeing. Between May and August 2011 VicHealth conducted a survey with 25 075 participants over 18 years of age, to see how time impacts on our health.

 

Work hours are the key drivers of time pressure, that, combined with caring responsibilities means that there is less time for sleeping, exercising, seeing friends and doing things that we enjoy. Time has a negative impact on health and wellbeing when:

  • experiencing long commuting times
  • there is a lack of time to spend with family and friends
  • we are not getting enough sleep

The impact of time constraint is that people have less time to do things that are connected with good health and wellbeing, such as:

  • joining the gym or going for a walk
  • sharing meals at dinner time
  • taking time to connect with family
  • eating healthy meals
  • getting adequate sleep
  • spending time with friends and doing social activities

What to do when there is lack of time for health?

In times of increased workload or stress it is important to take time to look after yourself, and doing things that you enjoy. Wellbeing helps us to function well in the world, and gives us the ability to feel happiness, contentment, engagement and enjoyment. Wellbeing also contributes to mental health; the ability to manage thoughts, feelings and behaviours to enjoy life.

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