It’s easy to feel burnt out when you’re trying to juggle doing your best at work, living a life you enjoy and taking care of yourself all at the same time. We all experience this sense of overwhelm at one time or another.
The secret to avoiding this work-related burnout and overwhelm is to maintain a healthy work life balance. In order to achieve this delicate balance, you must separate your work life from your personal life. Each side should be a priority, but it’s crucial to not let either one take priority over the other.
When you’re able to create and maintain this work life balance, you prevent the sense of overwhelm and burnout, all while boosting your productivity at work and happiness at home. By making your personal life as much of a priority as your work, you are able to still hold onto your goals, hobbies and interests without losing sight of who you are as a human being.
It’s now 2021 and people are wanting their jobs to compliment the life they want to live outside of the workplace, not a job they have to build their lives around. Unlike previous times, pay is now considered equally important as the freedom to live our preferred lifestyles. Burnout is typically seen in people who experience a high level of long-term stress at work and those who work a lot of overtime or lack boundaries when it comes to work.
Prolonged stress in the workplace has been linked to serious health risks, all of which can be avoided by maintaining a healthy balance. Long-term stress and overwhelm can cause heart problems and high blood pressure, poor gut health and chronic aches and pains. The mental effects are just as serious and include fatigue, depression, mood swings and irritability. All of these side effects can decrease your work performance and the enjoyment in the life you work tirelessly to create.
So, how can we avoid this feeling of intense overwhelm and achieve a healthy work life balance?
Basically, you need to prioritise caring for yourself. Making sure you’re eating and sleeping properly have incredible advantages physically and mentally. It’s important to give your body and mind what they need to function at their best. This also means shedding that guilt you feel when it comes to taking personal time for yourself. Knowing when to say “no” and delegate what can be delegated allows you to step away and not overfill your plate.
Setting boundaries is a key piece in finding this balance. Not allowing yourself to take calls or answer emails outside of set work hours gives you the freedom and mental space to be present in your personal life. Even when you love your job, you still need to detach from it and give your mind a chance to focus on something else. You should never work a job you hate, of course, but you can still become overwhelmed with one you find great purpose in.
You never want to give up on or lose sight of your personal goals, dreams, hobbies and passions. These are all what make you your unique self and give you a sense of purpose and drive in your life. In the chaos of work and under the tremendous amount of stress brought on by it all, you can lose sight of your own happiness quickly. Your work may even be a passion of yours, but there are still pieces of you outside of the workplace that need tending to.
On the other hand, if you’re an employer looking to decrease and deter the overwhelm and burn out your employees may be feeling, there are a few things you can do to foster a less stressful work environment for them. The first thing being to remember that your employees are human, too, and to treat them as such.
Be flexible with schedules and understand that many people have families and other obligations or circumstances outside of the workplace. There will come times when these will affect their ability to come to work or be there at a certain time and they need to know that you understand their struggles and support them.
Another key to reducing the stress for your employees is to enforce reasonable expectations and timelines. Try your best to not overload their plates, so they don’t end up feeling the pressure of juggling a handful of tasks with short deadlines. This, combined with clear communication, will create a sense of stability and support between you and your employees, which can make a big difference in whether they are able to find a healthy work life balance.
Part of why it’s so important to understand and respect your employees’ families and personal lives (and the fact that they exist) is because you want them to enjoy working for your company and to continue to produce solid work. One way of doing this is to make paid time off available, so they don’t feel torn between self care or paying their bills. Company sponsored family events and team building exercises among your team are both great ways of creating a sense of community and togetherness, which helps your employees feel less overwhelmed and stretched thin while boosting the productivity and morale in the workplace.
One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to model the behavior you want others to follow. This includes modeling a healthy, productive work life balance for your employees to emulate. There may not be a perfect balance, and there will always be good days and overwhelming days, but we all must remain fluid through the highs and lows.
Maintaining a good work life balance is a fragile scale, but it is attainable by making yourself a priority, enforcing boundaries, and letting yourself unplug by learning to separate your work life from your personal life.