Work/life balance is something we often hear about but what does this really mean? In fact, work-related stress has become a leading contributor to many physical health concerns, to say nothing of its toll on relationships and people’s emotional health.
Keeping your stress levels to a minimum and prioritising self-care may be the single most important lifestyle change you can make to improve this balance, however old habits remain hard to break and whilst most people readily agree that there needs to be a healthy balance between work and personal lives, many struggle to actually achieve it. Equally, there are times in our lives when bursts of ‘busy-ness’ are unavoidable and even essential. However, when being busy becomes the norm, It can be difficult to find the time to really relax or to simply sit, think and plan.
Seven signs your work/life may be out of balance include:
1. Feeling like you have too much to do all the time, constantly worrying and possibly feeling overwhelmed by this.
2. Feeling tired and/or sleeping less than seven hours per night.
3. Feeling as though nothing is being achieved despite your best efforts. This might come with a sense that there is a loss of meaning to what you do.
4. Feeling unable to spend time with your friends and family.
5. Feeling irritable and finding it difficult to empathise with other people.
6. No time for self-care, relaxing or reflective thinking.
7. Struggling to focus, especially when you do have time to relax.
The benefits of improved work/life balance may include:
• Feeling calmer and more in control of your life.
• A reduction in stress could help with symptoms such as anxiety, as well as improved sleep, more energy, clearer thinking and greater focus.
• A greater sense of achievement on a daily basis as opposed to feeling overwhelmed.
• Improved relationships with family and friends.
• A sense that relaxing is essential as well as enjoyable and not a luxury you don’t have time for.
…and if you are a team leader or an employer, the benefits also include:
• Increased productivity
• Lower absenteeism
• A happier, less stressed workforce
• Improvements in employee health and well-being
• Greater employee loyalty, commitment and motivation
• A reduction in staff turnover and recruitment costs
So where could we start to begin to improve work/life balance?
There are lots of different approaches you can take, from researching this on the internet to trying some different therapies. Two approaches I have found useful in the past and use through my work include:
Coaching provides you with an opportunity to think about, explore and appraise your situation. It facilitates you to develop your own strategies in managing the balance and differs from counselling in that sessions are solutions-focused and the focus is on moving forwards. Coaching approaches bring some great techniques which can help you get ‘unstuck’ and work out how to address problems, issues or plan your next move. Coaching provides you with some much-needed and focused time to think.
The beauty of reflexology is its simplicity and as it is a fully-clothed therapy, it is easy to fit this in during the working day in whatever time is available – even just 10-20 mins could make a difference. The principle is that points on your feet or hands correspond to points in the body and following this sequence of points through the use of massage techniques aids deep relaxation. Giving yourself the opportunity to relax at a deep level like this gives you some time out from a busy schedule through a gentle change in pace and could help you to feel very refreshed.