Hong Kong has some of the longest working hours in the world, while young people who are trying to build their careers, will often neglect their sleep, and proper food, and even their mental health to get ahead. Under the pressure of long working hours, you need to be truly inspired to keep working hard while at the same time maintaining a healthy body and soul!

A quarter of Hong Kong people feel “pressured by work”

The latest data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department in 20171, shows that Hong Kong employees aged 25-34 aged worked 43.2 hours per week, that’s 8.64 hours per day on average. This is already way past “Nine to five”. With many jobs demanding more and more working hours, the mental pressure also builds up. The recently published “Hong Kong Mental Health Index Survey”2 asked interviewees to rate their own mental health following the WHO-5 test. The result shows that 30% of citizens fail in mental health. A quarter of employees think that “work” brings them pressure and has created a ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on their mental health.

The WHO-5 Well-being Index

So how should we cope with work pressure? The WHO-5 index offers some ways to measure how well you are doing.

Index 1: “I woke up feeling fresh and rested.”

Try to get as much rest as possible after work each day. The right amount of sport and activity can also help you relax your body and improve the quality of your sleep. Try and avoid electronic products before you go to bed. The exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin which interferes with your biological clock. The content on your screen can also over stimulate your brain, making it harder to get to sleep. So stop scrolling before you go to bed, and sleep with a relaxed mind!

Index 2: “I have felt cheerful and in good spirits.”

Since we spend at least one-third of our time at work every day, why not make more effort to maintain a pleasant and positive working environment? Try and communicate more with your colleagues and build warm, positive relationships. When you are faced with a difficult situation, try and face it eagerly and seek a solution together with your supervisors and colleagues. And don’t hesitate to talk to family or friends to release any negative emotion, and maintain a peaceful mood.

Index 3: “I have felt calm and relaxed.”

You can improve your actual working surroundings to achieve a calmer, more relaxed mood. For example, put a plant on your desk so your eyes have something soothing to look at. You can also tidy your desk, and re-decorate it with photos or something you love to increase your sense of belonging. Picking a music playlist you like can also help to put you in a more relaxed working mood.

Index 4: “I have felt active and vigorous.”

Try to ease tension in your shoulders and neck by not sitting in the same position too long. Remind yourself to stand up every hour or so, and do some simple stretching to ease out the kinks. Try to avoid eating too much junk food. Have a piece of fruit instead, so you can have some good nutrition, vitamins and an energy boost while easing your hunger pangs.

Index 5: “My daily life has been filled with things that interest me.”

For young people just starting out in their careers, it can be hard choosing the right kind of job. So why not consider choosing a job by what interests you? Doing something you like will help create some positive emotional connection with your work, and these emotions will in turn motivate you to strive harder. Or you could go one step further and be a Slash worker. The multi-career paths could give you more exposure to different things, so you can experience something new every day. 

So keep the WHO-5 index in mind. Rate yourself and your own mental health from time to time. If you can answer yes to any of the WHO-5 index questions more than half the time in the next 2 weeks, it means you have a positive wellbeing score. You can also see the WHO-5 index as a target and remind yourself to take care of your inner health as well as your outer health, to become a truly healthy working person!



  1. 2017 Report on Annual Earnings and Hours Survey
  2. Joyful (Mental Health) Foundation monthly magazine “HeartWorks” - Hong Kong Mental Health Index Survey(Chinese Version)

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