Easier said than done? Work-life balance

What is work-life balance?

There’s no doubt that work-life balance has an influence on our mental health. For those who suffer from mental health disorders, having work-life balance is even more crucial. Work-life balance is defined as having the time to perform employment, family, social, and community tasks in a manner that results in some sort of equilibrium.

Whether your “work” is school, maintaining a household, or holding down a 9-5 job, you need time outside of your work to recharge, to engage with hobbies and passions, and to socialize with non-work people. Being able to have a personal life while fulfilling the work/school/etc. duties is the tricky part and will vary from person-to-person.

How can I improve my work-life balance?

You can begin by asking yourself: “What different roles do I have outside of work?” Are you a parent, friend, spouse, sibling, church member, volunteer, etc.? How are you tending to your various roles? Do you know how to delegate your time?

It is likely that we all found some areas for improvement as we pondered the above questions. With that being said, here are some ideas to help improve your work-life balance now:

Make changes: If possible, adjust work hours to be more conducive to your other life roles. Eat better, exercise more, sleep more, and develop your coping skills for when work is more demanding (unbalance from time-to-time is inevitable). These changes and self-care tasks will help you to be better prepared for juggling multiple responsibilities and roles in your life.

Unplug: The devices we surround ourselves with make it difficult to disconnect from work once we’ve punched out for the day. I suggest limiting or eliminating work-based email and work-related phone communications when you’re outside of work hours. Research supports that tending to things like work emails when you’re off the clock increases the chance of burnout.

Take breaks: I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t take a lunch break on a regular basis. I even read that many people fail to use their allotted vacation time. These activities are crucial to preventing burnout. Breaks help you to recharge during the day before returning to work. It will likely make you more productive when you return if you allow yourself to step out of work mode. When taking a break, it is important to get out of your work setting if possible and do something to relax; ie, watch youtube, read a book, listen to music. Avoid spending the whole time on social media, as it tends to drain more than rejuvenate. Schedule vacations once or twice a year (or more!) and don’t bring work on those vacations. The world will not end if you can’t be reached and you will be better off after stepping away for a bit.

List your non-negotiables: What are the non-work things that you refuse to miss? List them out and make sure you schedule it around your work obligations. For me, my weekly non-negotiables are writing at least one mental health blog, going to the gym at least 5 days, getting at least 8 hours of sleep nightly, and having a designated date night with my wife.

Conclusion

Having a work-life balance is easier said than done. We live in a competitive world and often fear we won’t be able to keep up unless we sacrifice. It all comes down to where your priorities are and what you’re willing to do to make them happen.

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