We live in extremely stressful times and it’s often difficult to find the right balance between our work/school responsibilities and our personal lives. Many of us are constantly worrying about promotions and job security or competition and grades. In doing so, we often let our work creep into the comforts of our homes. This could be through bringing mounds of work home, or racking up hours at the office, cutting into family time, or letting work-related anxiety impact relationships. According to the Mayo Clinic, almost 40% of Americans do not feel that they have a satisfactory work-life balance.
The consequences of a poor work-life balance can be manifold. You might end up feeling emotionally and physically exhausted, which could in turn end up affecting your performance at work. Work-related stress can affect your health in many ways, reducing your immune system’s ability to fight disease and worsening other medical conditions you might have. You might be missing important family events or taking your anxiety out on your loved ones, leading to conflicts in your personal life – and consequently, creating more stress. In extreme cases, an inability to find the right work-life balance could lead to a vicious cycle of burnout, involving increased feelings of depression, helplessness and anxiety.
It’s important for all of us to set limits to prevent the demands of career and personal life overwhelming us into the stage of burnout. You can try to manage your time better and distribute it appropriately between your professional and personal lives. Here are some simple tips to improve your work-life balance:
– Be conscious of how you’re spending your time and cut out time dedicated to unnecessary or unproductive activities
– Make lists to help you remember important family as well as work events
– Learn to respectfully decline requests that you don’t have time for, especially when you have other personal priorities to attend to
– Leave work at work – as much as your profession allows. Even if you do choose to bring work home, try to set aside exclusive family time first before you focus on your work
– Restrict the number of times you check and respond to your emails/messages, and be especially cognizant about time spent on your smartphones when surrounded by family and loved ones. Meals should be technology-free, for example.
It’s also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and care for yourself to cope with the stresses of our increasingly demanding lives. Make sure to eat well, exercise, socialize and spend time doing things you enjoy. If you feel that your life is becoming too overwhelming to manage, consider talking to a counselor or mental health worker.
As the saying goes, remember to “never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”!