“Work-Life Balance – Does It Even Exist!?”

March 17, 2023 | Dr. Krithika
Tags: Health & Wellness

Writer: Dr. Krithika 

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of stress and burnout  

 

The hustle of everyday life makes me feel like we are on a constant loop that never stops. It's like our entire life is on autopilot mode, and we are living a life decided by someone else with minimal choice left for us to navigate. Humans have become so invested in work and our careers that we stopped cherishing the important personal moments that define our life. The endless toxicity of sacrificing our health, happiness, passion, hobbies, and desires for work reminds me of a poem called Joy and Pleasure by William Henry Davies.  

The most important lines of this poem that I relate to are as follows:  

“Pleasure's a Moth, that sleeps by day 

And dances by false glare at night; 

But Joy's a Butterfly, that loves 

To spread its wings in Nature's light.” 

This poem captures the reality of losing ourselves to goals not based on our passion and needs. I am not advocating that humans shouldn't work and earn a living. We all have a life to lead with various needs and expenses. But establishing a clear work-life balance helps us to pursue our passion and have space for our personal lives as well as succeed and thrive in our professional lives. 

Before we go further into the importance of work-life balance and ways to achieve it, let us understand what it is.  

Work-life balance refers to the prioritization between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.  

A work-life balance is integral to more fulfilling lives. It is essential for the growth of employers, employees, and companies.  

Importance of Work-Life Balance 

  1. Work-life balance helps us maintain our mental health 
  • A healthy work-life balance means that individuals will be happier, more self-aware, and more productive. This balance reduces stress and the chances of burnout, two common health issues in the workplace.  
  • Burnout is a form of exhaustion that signifies something the job environment and your way of life don't match. The reasons for burnout may be a work overload, too little control over work, and conflict of values with the organization. In a healthy work-life balance, burnout will not be a cause of concern.  
  • Work-life balance helps us maintain our physical health 
  • Overworked individuals are constantly affected by health issues. It is important to take appropriate breaks throughout the day. Individuals who spend too many hours working can lead to stress that weakens the immune system, giving way to frequent bouts of illness. A healthy work-life balance protects your health, and you are more energetic about the activities that you would have to do.  

Constant overtime work mainly leads to the following complications: 

  • Increased neck and muscle discomfort 
  • Higher on-the-job injury rates 
  • Unhealthy weight gain 
  • Higher risk of heart-related problems 
  • The work-life balance increases productivity and increases engagement at work 
  • When individuals are happy and motivated about what they do, they are more likely to be engaged in the workplace, thereby increasing their productivity. A less stressed, mentally and physically healthy employee feels more connected to co-workers and is likely to work together as a team and aim for success. Engaged individuals show a lot more commitment to the work that they are doing as well as contribute innovatively.  
  • Work-life balance provides happiness and fulfillment. 
  • One of the main reasons that work-life balance should be an integral part of your life is because it makes you a happy person with a sense of fulfillment. Being in control of your life and choices boosts positivity and well-being. 
  • Work-Life Balance improves your ability to improve your relationships and be present. 
  • A balanced lifestyle helps us spend more time with friends and family, establishing deep connections and deriving meaning and happiness from them.  

Many times in our lives, we know the importance of work-life balance and look for ways to implement it in our lives and set clear boundaries. But why aren't we able to balance our life? Before understanding ways to bring work-life balance a part of our being, we must understand the obstacles to our path. 

What stops us from achieving work-life balance:  

  • Perfectionism: It's never wrong to strive to achieve great results in our tasks. However, the idea of perfection is, in many ways, an illusion. If you constantly criticize yourself and feel guilty about your mistakes, pause and understand that learning is the only constant process. Caring for our work and putting out the best output possible is natural. Still, it's important not to lose sight of our personal lives and relationships. 
  • People having 24/7 access to you: Creating boundaries in personal and professional spaces are deeply important. Whether it is your colleague or boss calling you at 11 pm asking you to help them at work or your friend calling you out despite letting them know you are ill, establish a boundary and politely let them know you wouldn't be able to do it. Stick to your boundaries and have a “me-time” daily to rejuvenate and do what you love. 
  • Setting priorities: Prioritising our work and the important goals to be done helps when distractions constantly threaten us thereby preventing us from completing our work on time. You don't have to answer each email or return each phone message as it comes in. Schedule a time to read and reply to emails or unimportant calls. You can also schedule time for your social media accounts (which can also be a huge distraction). 
  • Ability to differentiate between business and productivity: Skipping lunch and staying up late at night makes us feel busy. We may think we are accomplishing something, but that's not true. Productivity is about getting things done and adopting a healthy lifestyle rather than working overtime and experiencing burnout. 
  • The two worlds collide: There are many moments when we think about work at home and home while at work. When our mind keeps oscillating, will we be able to be productive in the roles provided to us? Looking at our habits and understanding that there should be a clear differentiation between our personal and professional problems helps us handle them better. 

Now that we have understood the importance of work-life balance and the obstacles in our path to achieving it let's ask ourselves the golden question:  

What strategies can help us employ work-life balance in our everyday life? 

Ways to improve our work-life balance: 

Learning to say “NO” 

“No” may sound like any other word, but it is a complete sentence. I can't stress enough the importance of learning to say No; I feel it is an important skill. You would have to first start this habit by looking into your day and learning to articulate the things you have on your schedule. It is important to understand that saying “no” to things of a lesser priority. This action frees up more time and energy to say “yes” to other things that are important to you.  

Take short breaks  

A break, however short, maybe can do the following to your life: 

  • Keep us engaged 
  • Improve Concentration 
  • Reduce stress levels 
  • Keep us more engaged in work, thereby feeling rejuvenated. 

  A critical study by the Energy Project found that people go from full focus to fatigue every 90 minutes.  

 Ask for flexibility and relaxation in rules 

Having open and honest conversations about your life about your needs and understanding how that can align with your employer is essential. Such discussions lead to productive results like job sharing, breaks, and a more flexible workweek schedule.  

 Prioritize your health 

Recognizing the importance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being is the path to prioritizing health. Start to integrate healthy, supportive habits into your life like 

  • Daily meditation 
  • Movement/exercise  
  • Social connection 
  • A gratitude practice 

Practice self-compassion 

It's essential to recognize that we constantly face difficulties. There are constant struggles, and we can't do everything right. Understanding this truth helps us shift toward being more compassionate, especially towards ourselves, and adapting a growth and constant unlearning approach.  

Ask for help 

In the constant whirlwind, we aim for success, and we often forget ourselves. Receiving help whenever we need it from our close ones and psychologists drastically changes our viewpoint on work-life balance. This help pushes us to perform better in all aspects of our life.  

When it comes to work-life balance, it is hard for us to achieve it entirely, but taking small steps toward the ultimate goal is vital to a fulfilling life.  

A quote beautifully sums up the meaning of balance in life “You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” - Heather Shuck.  

We constantly adapt to our schedules as our interests and circumstances change. Consider regular revisits to your priorities and schedules. See what’s changed and keep the work-life balance fluid and ongoing! 

Still thinking that it’s hard to maintain a work-life balance? Consider taking a professional’s help. We have in-house counselors to help you at the best rates!  

 

 

 

 

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