With 10.4 million working days lost each year due to work-related stress, maintaining a work-life balance is so important. Self-care is essential to our wellbeing, and it could be the one thing standing between you and burnout
We spend much of our lives at work, and the pressure to succeed is constant. So, it’s important we have time to relax, unwind and enjoy other aspects of our lives. We get it, with a manager breathing down your neck and deadlines looming, taking a break can be the last thing on your mind, but trust us. Without a good work-life balance, stress, exhaustion and other health issues can rear their ugly heads.
Achieving and maintaining a good work-life balance isn’t easy and takes time. If you’re used to working long hours, checking emails at home and saying yes to everything, it’ll take a while to break the habit, but persevere – it’s worth it.
How do you know if you’re lacking balance?
With more than 40% of people neglecting other aspects of their life because of work, recognising the signs of poor work-life balance and knowing when change is needed is essential.
Common signs of poor work-life balance include:
• aches and pains
• change in eating habits
• working out of hours
• feeling irritable, snappy or emotional
• relationships struggling
Our tips to improve work-life balance (and to keep it that way!):
Schedule your day
It might sound counterintuitive, but setting aside time to exercise, go out with friends and pursue your passions can help you relax after a long day at work. At the start of each week, make plans to do things you enjoy. You wouldn’t think it, but scheduling time to do the things that nourish your mind and body can actually improve productivity the next day!
Learn to say no
Boundaries are important in maintaining a good work-life balance. Saying yes to everything may look good to start with, but can be harmful in the long-run. If you’ve got a bit too much on your plate, it’s OK to say no. And if you can help it, try to leave work at work. Keep things positive but set the line – make it clear you’re unavailable in the evening.
This is a great way to utilise the moments when you are most productive. Instead of getting overwhelmed with a long to-do list, each morning write down your top priorities for that day only. Oh, and include a proper lunch break and finish time! Writing down just three to five top priorities each day is much more manageable, and you’re less likely to get distracted.
Make health a priority
This one’s simple: listen to your body! If you’re sick, then stay at home. Pushing through illness often only makes things worse. If you feel close to burnout or are experiencing frequent headaches or sleeping problems, consider speaking to your doctor. And ensure your employer knows how you feel. If you’re struggling, they should support you and, together, you can create a more manageable plan.
Know what you want
If you think you’ll benefit from reduced hours or remote working, consider speaking to your employer. This isn’t an option for everyone, but, if it will improve your wellbeing, it’s worth a discussion. And consider if the role is really what you want. Are you happy? If you’re unable to overcome the issues that are causing your stress, it may be time to move on.
Of course, sometimes we can’t help but feel swamped with work – it’s totally normal. But feeling exhausted and dreading work each day is no way to live. As Hillary Clinton once said: “Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.”
Ellen is a contributing writer for Happiful and Content Manager for Memiah.