How’s your work-life balance?

The lines between our work, personal, and family lives have never been more blurred. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic turned homes into offices, classrooms, and recreation centers all at the same time. With physical boundaries gone, the ability to leave one role and commit to another also disappeared. Instead, daily routines began feeling more like a chaotic juggling act than an organized sequence of activities.

Time for a change?

As life in the US begins to look more normal, now’s a good time to step back and assess your balance. After two years of juggling, it might be hard to let go and adopt a more balanced approach. But, it’s important to your health, happiness, and success to make some changes.

Why balance matters

If you have a “no pain, no gain” mindset when it comes to occupational success, think again. Putting in long hours on the job isn’t necessarily what’s best for you or your career. Spending too much time focused on work can lead to:

  • Fatigue and stress. When you’re tired and stressed, it’s hard to concentrate and think creatively, which reduces both the quality and quantity of your work. You’re also more likely to be irritable, which can negatively impact professional relationships.
  • Poor health. Stress weakens your immune system and increases your risk of getting sick, which means lost days at work. And, if you experience chronic stress, your chances of having a heart attack are doubled!
  • Unhappiness. Passing up time with family and friends or enjoyable activities is bound to make you feel isolated, angry, and resentful. Unhappy employees are less productive, take more sick days, and grow dissatisfied with their jobs more quickly.

Find your balance

Try these tips to shift your life back into balance:

  • Set manageable goals – Making a realistic “to do” list each day and tackling the most important items first will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and control.
  • Schedule downtime – Plan breaks throughout each workday and regularly schedule time during the week for activities that you find relaxing and reenergizing.
  • Speak up when you’re bogged down – If your workload is overwhelming you, don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help, reset expectations, or adjust the scope of your responsibilities.
  • Decide when to unplug – If you work from home or continue to check in while at home, it’s important to set limits. Clearly identify with your colleagues and your family when you’ll be “on the job” and when you’re “off the clock.” Then stick to it!
  • Take care of yourself – Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep will help boost your mood, reduce your stress, and keep you healthy.
  • Seek out support – If you’re struggling to achieve the balance you need, reach out for help. In addition to talking with friends or family, consider contacting your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP counselors are available 24/7 to offer confidential support and referrals to mental health professionals, if needed.
Sources:
“Work Life Balance,” Mental Health America (www.mhanational.org)
“Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control,” Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org), August 25, 2020