Now is the time to reflect on your work-life balance: top tips and why it's important.
When was the last time you stopped to think about whether your work-life balance is healthy or not? Even more importantly, when did you last take decisive action when these two factors were anything but balanced?
Prevention is endlessly more beneficial than cure when it comes to your resilience and mental well-being. Yet, many of us never think about it until we are hit with a crisis arising from a deterioration in our mental and/or physical well-being.
Why is it so important?
According to mentalhealth.org.uk, the pressure of our demanding work culture in the UK is one of the biggest and most pressing challenges we currently face. Employers are worried about the uncertain high-stake economic landscape that pushes them towards constant restructuring. Subsequently they are demanding more of us, and the impact of this strain cascades down to impact employee’s health.
We are routinely expected to work longer hours on ever increasing overtime, merely as part of the job. The United Kingdom is amongst the 25% of countries with the highest levels of people working ‘very long hours’, but is also in the lowest 25% of countries measured for average time spent on leisure and personal care activity. This isn't good news for our healthcare sector which is more stretched than ever before, with waiting lists for therapy often 18 months or longer.
This is a national problem, one that is social and cultural as much as it is economic and physical. So what can we collectively do to change this vicious circle of downward spiral?
Taking time out for ourselves is sometimes seen as self-interested and something that is besides the point of everyday. “I don’t have time for myself” we keep saying, yet it is one of the most important and kind things we can do for ourselves, our loved ones and for our employers.
Timely intervention is comparable to the announcement made on a plane that if the air-masks fall, we should first attach one to ourselves before assisting others. As obvious as is it, unfortunately, this is something we often forget.
Exercise: You don’t have to be Victoria Pendleton to achieve your daily exercise target. Whilst some exercises are more beneficial than others cardiovascularly speaking, the health benefits of a regular increase in activity can be far reaching- as long as you personally value it's positive benefits to your well-being.
Walking, running, kayaking, swimming, dancing, rock climbing, bodybuilding? It’s important to be practical; explore and own your choices on the basis that it is unlikely to become routine if you do not enjoy yourself.
Time for your loved ones: With long hours spent working, and many in between thinking about work, it’s easy to neglect the people we love and who help make you “you”. Even if it’s just a phone call or a coffee date, reconnecting with your friends and family will boost your positivity and help restore your work-life balance leading to greater self-assurance and sense of control.
Seize your downtime and do what you love: You are not Duracell Bunny, you need to recharge! Turn off your phone and spend time away from social media which is a time consuming, mind-numbing obsession for far too many of us- whether we realise it or not. Spend the time wisely and mindfully, notice the tranquility of nature, catch up with a loved one- you’d be amazed how rejuvenated you can feel.
Stress, high workload and long hours will sometimes be an inevitability. Even then, there are things we can do to manage our stress levels and keep our balance:
Speak with your employer: It may be intimidating, but it is beneficial to both you and to your employer if you are well balanced and are working efficiently. A happy workforce yields better results with less sickness and downtime.
Be organised: Work smart, prioritise and delegate. We always do things at work we don’t necessarily have to do. Make a list of items that need to be done in order of priority and tick them off. Calm organisation is key.
Take a break: Taking regular breaks from your computer and enough time for your lunch can help you moderate your physical and mental wellbeing, even when you have a stressful day.
If you begin to leave work at work, introduce regular cool down periods and be mindful when stressful moments, days or weeks start to merge, you can improve your work-life balance. With the help of your family and friends, together we can be happier in our professional and personal lives.
Written by Laura Lohk for Grace & Green