Updated: Aug 10
You know the situation: You have urgent work stuff to do and you're so deep in it that you start ignoring all your body's signals. A rumbling stomach might be easily silenced by reaching into your emergency snack stash, but a full bladder..? You'd need to leave your desk for that.
Unfortunately, avoiding bathroom breaks is all too common at work. Some of us do it because we're simply busy or absorbed in tasks. For others, it comes down to the regulations and/or work culture created by the employer.
In 2018, a startling report found that 74% of Amazon warehouse workers in the UK were avoiding using the toilet for fear of missing targets. And an article at The Conversation highlights a disturbing trend where companies limit or monitor bathroom breaks in a bid to heighten productivity (spoiler alert: it doesn't work!).
It's important on both ends that bathroom breaks are taken seriously and made a priority. On the employer side, that means giving staff the time to take breaks when they need them – and making sure they feel comfortable and secure to do so. Happy, healthy staff are productive staff. And no one should fear judgement or retribution from their boss because they had to duck out in the middle of a meeting to use the loo.
For the employee, it's important to understand the consequences of holding it in and, well… just go! The reality is that consistently ignoring your bladder's signals can potentially do you long-term damage.
What happens when you hold it in?
In the below YouTube video, urologist Dr. Rena Malik explains why holding in your pee is a problem. Here's what she says:
Over time, the signals from your bladder to your brain change. Your brain starts to think the bladder can hold more, and the signals to go to the bathroom are delayed. This causes the bladder muscles to stretch and weaken over time.
When the muscles weaken, it can lead to your bladder not emptying fully and even the need for catheterisation.
A bladder that doesn't empty fully can also collect bacteria and result in bladder infections.
Additionally, holding in your pee means you're flexing your pelvic floor muscles too much. This can cause pain in situations where they can no longer relax.
The bottom line? Holding it in once in a while is OK – let's face it, we all do it sometimes! But doing it all the time can lead to serious issues.
If you're not going at least once every four hours, Dr. Malik suggests setting a timer on your phone to remind you to get up and go. As she says, you have to prioritise yourself and your health – and we couldn't agree more!
Here's to letting it all out – from the team at Anista Employee Benefits!