Are you noticing that you are overwhelmed with stress and lacking work-life balance? There’s a good chance you fall into the category of work taking precedence over everything else in your life – and you are not alone.
So many people push aside their own well-being in order to succeed professionally, but there’s a good chance if you continue to do so, your health is going to pay the price. Workplace burnout and lack of work-life balance not only causes irritability, mood swings, fatigue, and a dip in work performance, but it’s also linked to some pretty serious mental and physical health problems.
Trying to understand the true meaning of work life balance and learn about tips you can use to achieve it? We’ve got you covered with 10 tips on how you can improve your work-life balance starting today.
Work life balance meaning | What is work life balance?
By definition, work-life balance is a state of equilibrium where you give equal priority to the demands of your personal life as well as the demands of your work.
Common reasons why you may lack work-life balance may be:
- Having a family with children
- Working longer hours
- More responsibilities at home
- A family member is unable to work and is ill
- You have increased responsibility at work
In practice, a healthy work-life balance refers to making an effort to manage your time and apply specific approaches in order to maintain a harmonious relationship between your personal life and your work. You consciously make the effort on a daily basis to regulate your time and energy to keep up with both your personal and professional commitments while at the same time remembering to prioritize your own personal health and well-being.
Why is work-life balance so important?
Finding a good balance between our personal life and professional work can be difficult, but it’s essential in order to reduce stress and help prevent burnout in the workplace.
Countless studies have shown that chronic stress is one of the most common health issues that people face in the workplace – and it can lead to some serious health consequences such as hypertension, gut health problems, chronic pain, heart problems, and more.
Chronic stress is also linked to some really challenging mental health issues, such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
11 Tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance:
- Plan out and manage your time daily: Effective time management is crucial for achieving work-life balance. Plan your day in advance, prioritize tasks, and allocate specific time slots for different activities. This helps you stay organized, reduces stress, and ensures you have dedicated time for both work and personal life.
- Take breaks during your workday: Breaks are essential for maintaining focus, reducing mental fatigue, and increasing productivity – and studies have shown you should aim to take a short 5-10 minute break every 30 to 90 minutes of work. You can incorporate short breaks throughout your workday by chatting with a friend, grabbing a cup of matcha, daydreaming, sharing a joke and laughing with a friend, face time with a family member, meditating, taking a quick walk around the block, or stretching at your desk. Stepping away from your desk or workspace can also help create a clear separation between work and personal time.
- Swap out coffee for matcha for energy: While coffee can provide an energy boost, it can also lead to jitters and crashes. Consider replacing some of your coffee consumption with matcha, a type of green tea that provides a more sustained and balanced energy boost without the side effects. Matcha contains L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and focus. Oh, and did we also mention it lasts for 6-8 hours, is great for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and can help with work anxiety and give you a boost in your mood?
- Set boundaries between work and home life: It’s important to clearly define and communicate boundaries between your work and personal life. Avoid checking work emails or taking work-related calls during your personal time, unless it's absolutely necessary. It can help to create physical or mental spaces that signify the transition from work to personal life, such as changing out of your work clothes or engaging in a hobby such as taking a yoga class or meeting up with friends to play padel tennis so you can mentally check-out from work and reset.
- Take time off: It's crucial to take regular time off from work to relax, rejuvenate, and spend quality time with loved ones. Whether it's vacation days, weekends, or personal days, prioritize your well-being by disconnecting from work and planning those longer vacations you’ve been daydreaming about or long weekends with friends and family that bring you joy and fulfillment. Psss, studies have shown matcha is great for jet lag too!
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, without judgment. Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindful walking. These practices have been shown to help reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.
- Implement stress management: Find effective stress management techniques that work for you. This may include exercise, yoga, journaling, listening to music, or engaging in hobbies such as jiu jitsu or knitting. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies to identify what helps you relax and unwind, and make it a regular part of your routine. It can be helpful to chat with friends about the healthy ways they unwind from work.
- Set goals in something you love outside of work: Pursuing activities or hobbies you're passionate about outside of work is essential for work-life balance. Set goals related to these activities, whether it's learning a musical instrument and finally getting up in front of the crowd at the local bar, knitting scarves for the whole family for Christmas, taking a stand-up comedy class and performing, committing to an ironman, writing a book, or finally getting that black belt in karate by the time you're 50 – there are endless possibilities! Find something that you love and think of a goal you can set around it or an event you can sign up for to test your skills. Having something to look forward to and progress in outside of work can provide a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment.
- Adapt and adjust to unforeseen circumstances: Life is unpredictable, and unexpected situations may arise that disrupt your work-life balance. It’s important to be flexible and not allow yourself to get flustered over the little things - as big as they may seem at a given moment when you may be feeling stressed out at home or work.It's important to be adaptable and flexible when facing such circumstances. Seek creative solutions, delegate tasks when necessary, and don't hesitate to ask for support or assistance to help maintain balance during challenging times.
- Communicate with your boss or manager: Open and honest communication with your superiors at the workplace is key. Discuss your work-life balance concerns and potential solutions with them. They may be able to provide accommodations, offer flexible work arrangements, or provide guidance on managing workload and priorities. Don’t be afraid to be your own biggest advocate!
- Talk to a therapist or life coach: If you're struggling to achieve work-life balance or experiencing persistent stress, seeking professional support can be beneficial. A therapist or life coach can provide guidance, help you identify areas for improvement, and offer strategies to manage stress, prioritize effectively, and find fulfillment in both work and personal life.
The Bottom line | The definition of work-life balance is evolving; you are in control of your life
Remember, achieving work-life balance is a continuous process, and it may require experimentation and adjustments along the way. Prioritize self-care, set realistic expectations, and make choices that align with your values and well-being.
The general attitude on work-life balance in the US will continue to shift as we experience generational, economic, and cultural changes.
Sure, there is a lot employers can do to ensure employees maintain a healthier work balance, but there are A LOT more things YOU can do on a personal level to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
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