Creating Balance in Work and Life
Spring is a great time to set goals to reduce stress and find balance in your life. With work, family, social obligations, and many other demands, there seems to be very little time for activities that bring relaxation and renewal. Yet research shows that our physical health, our emotional wellbeing, as well as our productivity at work and at home are compromised when our lives get out of balance.
Why Is Balance So Challenging?
People are finding it more and more difficult to find balance in their lives due to the many changes that have occurred in our society in recent years. Between 26 and 40 percent of employees rate their jobs as “very or extremely stressful” and one-quarter report that their jobs are more stressful than their family or personal challenges.
It is important to recognize some of the signs that your life has become out of balance. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:
- Increased level of fatigue. This may lead to problems with concentration, coordination, and an increase in mistakes and accidents.
- Disconnection from family and friends. You may find that you are missing out on important family and social functions, such as the kids’ activities, weekend outings, and family gatherings.
- Symptoms of Emotional Stress. These may include irritability, worry, unexplained sadness, poor sleep, increase in headaches or other physical symptoms, and changes in appetite.
- Decrease in motivation at work or at home. Ongoing stress and pressure can lead to a state of exhaustion, which makes it difficult to stay focused on attaining goals.
Set Goals to Achieve Balance
While there is no quick solution to finding balance in life, there are some proven strategies to help you to feel more in control. Here are some practical tips to help you reach your goals for work/life balance:
- Keep a log. Write down everything you do for one week, including both work-related and family/personal activities. Divide your list into three categories: 1) Important to do myself; 2) Can delegate to: (identify a specific person); and 3) Not important-dump it!
- Identify areas for flexibility. Are there some ways that you can work a flexible schedule, or can you share family responsibilities with another working parent, or your spouse?
- Manage time effectively. Develop systems at home and at work to complete tasks efficiently. Develop a weekly calendar, along with daily to-do lists.
- Communicate directly. Be sure to tell others what you need and listen to others. Negotiate when priorities differ. Have a regular time to check-in to avoid misunderstandings. Address any misunderstandings quickly and make new agreements together.
- Overcome guilt. It is important to set boundaries – you cannot be all things to all people, neither at work nor at home.
- Take care of yourself. Make time in your schedule for relaxation, exercise, and social time. Write in a journal, take a yoga class, or take a hot bath.
- Schedule time off. Take one day a week to spend away from work and home responsibilities. Plan an outing with the family, or a day for yourself.
- Attend to your physical health. Get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Increase your support system. Find others who are working to find balance in their lives and support one another in achieving your goals.
- Seek professional help, if needed. Sometimes the stresses of life can be overwhelming. Call DIRECTION, your Employee Assistance Program, to talk with a counselor who will help you address issues in your life that leave you feeling out of balance.
Finding balance in work and life will take time and effort, but the pay off is a healthier, more productive and more rewarding life. Set goals now and make this season your best yet!