Work-life “Balance”

February 11, 2022

Becoming a mom can be such a joyful experience.  Some might even say being a mom is truly a blessing.  However, there may be times you think to yourself…  Why does this blessing make me so tired, stressed, or anxious (or all of the above)?  We all have heard or have felt just how overwhelming it can be to be a parent.  How does one find time for all the things they want to do in life and make sure everything runs smoothly?   Is the so-called work-life balance even achievable?  

We now live in a time where the boundaries between work and home can seem a bit blurry at times.  Do you find yourself in the middle of a task at home and you start to think about something you are doing for work?  Maybe just take a quick look at your work emails and there you are 20 minutes later, working.  Seems rather harmless, right?  Keep in mind that when your work and personal life get out of balance you are more likely to see your stress levels soar.  

Work-life balance is not completely out of reach.  You can start with evaluating your relationship to work and then start to apply specific strategies to create a healthier balance. 

Consequences of work-life – unbalanced.

  • Fatigue. If you are tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly may suffer.  Which could take a toll on your performance and your professionalism, possibly leading to costly mistakes.
  • Poor health. Stress is often associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition. Stress has also been linked to substance abuse.
  • Lack of quality time with friends and loved ones. If you’re always working, you may be missing important family events and milestones. This can leave you feeling a little isolated and could potentially harm relationships with your loved ones. It’s difficult to devote time to your friendships if you’re always working.
  • Increased expectations. If you regularly take on extra hours at work, you might be given even more responsibilities – which comes with additional concerns and challenges.

How To Achieve A Better Balance?

For most adults, juggling the demands of their career and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. But you can learn to set limits and take care of yourself.  It is possible to achieve the work-life balance that’s best for you.

Set Limits

If you set limits, you will find that you have time for other activities and can devote more time to the people you care about.  Here are some things to consider ideas:

  • Time management. Cut or delegate activities you no longer enjoy or do not have the time for. Share your concerns and possibly offer solutions to your employer or others.  Find a way to organize household tasks efficiently, such as running errands in batches or doing a load of laundry every day.  Don’t save all the things on your to-do list to tackle on your day off. 
  • Create a list. Jot down family events on a calendar, and keep two daily to-do lists one for home and one at work. Planning can help you maintain focus. When you don’t have a clear plan, you can be easily consumed by the plans and priorities of others.
  • It is okay to say no. If a coworker is asking you to jump in on an extra project or your child’s school is asking you to organize an event, remember that it’s okay to respectfully say no if you truly do not have the time. You will start to realize that once you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for other activities that are more meaningful to you.
  • Focus and be present. Technology has given us the ability to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere.  Leaving no boundaries between work and home – unless you create it. Make the conscious decision to separate work time from personal time (and vice versa, of course).
  • Rethink how often you check your emails.  Start checking emails no more than three times a day – late morning, early afternoon and late in the day. If you access your emails first thing in the morning, you may lose focus on your priorities and respond to other people’s issues first rather than being proactive about your own needs.
  • Find out what options are available to you. Does the company you work with offer flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility? 
  • Try to minimize interruptions. Most people can sustain a maximum level of concentration for no more than 90 minutes. After that, the ability to retain information decreases dramatically. When interrupted during a task, you need double or triple the time of the interruption to regain full concentration on your task.

Live Healthy

A healthy lifestyle is essential to coping with stress and to achieving a work-life balance. 

Try to incorporate the following:

  • A healthy diet is so important. You know the drill… fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.  The Mediterranean diet is a good one to follow.  Quality foods enhance your abilities to retain knowledge, perform better, improve stamina, and help your overall well-being.
  • Get your sleep. The less sleep you have increases your stress levels.  Try to avoid using personal electronic devices before bedtime. The blue light that is emitted by these devices decreases your melatonin levels, the hormone associated with sleep.
  • Make the time for fun and relaxation. Set aside the time each day for an activity that you enjoy or to practice self-care. Find activities you can do with your partner, family or friends – such as hiking, dancing or taking classes together.
  • Volunteer. Try not to over commit. But research does show that volunteering can contribute to a greater sense of work-life balance. Doing good for others can improve your emotional and social well-being.
  • Strengthen your support system. If possible join forces with co-workers who can cover for you – and vice versa – when conflicts arise. At home, try to delegate tasks when you need to work overtime or travel.

Whether you are a parent or not, it is important to manage your time wisely.  There are no awards for being the most stressed out or the most overworked.  We only live once, be sure to do the things you enjoy.

Recognize When You Need Help.

We all need help from time to time. If life starts to feel unmanageable, talk with a professional – such as a counselor or other mental health provider. If you have an employee assistance program available to you through work, take advantage of those services.

Creating a work-life balance is going to be a continuous process as your life changes. Take the time to examine your priorities – and make the changes necessary – to make sure you’re staying on track.

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