8 Ways to Achieve a Healthier Work-Life Balance
Are you struggling to juggle your career with your personal life? Trust me when I say, you’re not alone.
Now more than ever, people are seeing the lines between work and social life blur. The competitive – achieve more with less – society that we live in is forcing many of us to work longer hours – simply to stay in the game. The fact that work emails can now be accessed almost anywhere, which results in employees essentially being on call even when they aren’t physically at work, is also putting strain on our personal lives. But do we really need to sacrifice our social life in order to succeed in the workplace? Or is there room for compromise?
A recent report published by Aviva highlights the detrimental effects an unhealthy work-life balance can have on our mental health. The research found that in 2015, 33% of people experienced stress, while 29% suffered from anxiety. More than a third (34%) of those who suffer from stress mentioned work concerns as the main reason for this.
While a little stress can be beneficial at times, studies have shown that extremely stressed brains achieve far less than ones that are energised and focussed. Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind UK, told Aviva that “organisations who prioritise mental health at work reap rewards in terms of staff productivity and morale; as well as reducing sickness absence.”
So, it can therefore be said that those who make time for a little R&R are, in fact, able to achieve more than those who prioritise work above all else. Although the ‘right balance’ varies from person to person – and will also vary over time – even a slight alteration to one’s work ethic could go a long way. Hopefully the following eight tips could help you feel healthier and happier, while still maintaining productivity in the workplace.
You used to reach me on my cell phone…
Lewis Howes, author of ‘The School of Greatness’, once said that “smartphones are the modern professional’s biggest blessing and biggest curse”. As Mamo mentions, although in many ways drastically improving our lives, it’s “technology which allows us to work outside of the traditional work environment.”
Switch off from work by not using your mobile between certain times. Instead, spend this time enjoying the finer things in life… like friends and family. After all, doesn’t the saying go ‘work hard, play hard’?
No-one is perfect! Mamo advises to not “be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything right all the time – we all make mistakes.” Many people take on more than they can manage, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety when they inevitably fall short of the unreasonable targets they have set themselves. An easy way to tackle the issue is to set yourself realistic, achievable goals.
Leave work at work
Setting a clear divide between work and personal time is extremely important. No matter how important your job is, or how passionate you are about it, you need to be able to take a break. Mamo states, “a good way to ensure you are able to switch off from work is to take time at the end of your working day to reflect on everything you have achieved”.
Ensure you get enough sleep
A poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling unproductive, irritable and more prone to stress. Although the amount of sleep one needs varies from person to person, the recommended amount is 7-9 per day. A trick to getting a better night’s sleep is to relax for a half hour or so before bed.
Take a well-earned holiday
Holidays are a great way to spend quality time with your partner or friends, away from work and the stress of day-to-day life. In competitive office environments, people tend to forfeit their holiday to not miss out. But studies have shown that those who take their allotted holiday come back happier and more productive.
If you don’t have time to take long holidays, or can’t afford to go somewhere exotic, why not spend a long weekend by the coast or in the countryside?
Exercise is key
Ever thought about joining a gym or sports team? Not only is exercise a great way to release stress and endorphins but, by doing this with other people, you’ll also enhance your social life which will make you feel better about yourself.
Avoid working long hours
This is one of those things that’s easier said than done. While sometimes it may help to get urgent work done, Mamo states that “over long periods of time this can leave you feeling frazzled and reduce your productivity.” Set yourself deadlines to work toward – this will help you stay focused throughout the day and might actually see you out of the door at a reasonable time.
It’s all about me
Forget about the now infamous FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), leave all else behind and spend time doing something for yourself, rather than for anyone else. Whether it be sitting in park watching the clouds float by, or having a hot bath, everyone needs a little ‘me time’.
Guest article by Alessandro Bova