The Importance Of Work-Life Balance — And How To Achieve It

The Importance Of Work-Life Balance -- And How To Achieve It

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By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

I had a career coaching client, Emily, come to me once with a dilemma I’ve heard all too often. She was overwhelmed at work, and felt like she had no time to focus on her personal life. She was taking phone calls at family dinners, putting in extra hours, and overall feeling like she was missing out on her life.

Emily’s situation struck a chord.

I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find the balance between your work and personal life. When you want to succeed, it’s tempting to put every ounce of yourself into work. But when you do this, you leave very little for other important aspects of your life like family, hobbies, and general personal happiness.

I knew if Emily kept going the way she was, she would burn out, lose productivity at work and her connection to her personal life.

It’s not just about taking that vacation time (which you should — fewer and fewer Americans are actually using their vacation days). Having a healthy work-life balance is crucial for your mental and physical health, and can help stave off stress and burnout.

It’s obvious to say that studies show the majority of workers prefer companies that provide a healthy balance between work and personal life… But did you know that being overworked can actually be fatal? Science has shown that the more overworked you are, the greater risk you have for heart failure and stroke. Goldman Sachs even had to reduce their interns’ work hours after a Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern died after working 72 hours without a break. Reports say he died from epileptic seizures brought on from pulling all-nighters for his work.

Here are a few ways you can achieve a work-life balance that works for you, so you don’t end up burned out and overwhelmed, and so you don’t put your health at risk.

  • Take advantage of “me time.” When you hear “self-care,” maybe you think of meditation and face masks. But taking care of yourself is important! You need to make sure you take the time to reset and recharge, whether that’s going to the gym or allowing yourself a binge-session of your favorite show.
  • Learn to say “no.” Saying no can seem impossible, especially at work. Trust me, I know. But if you agree to attend every event, take on every project, or manage every co-worker, you’ll find yourself with no time left… And the worst type of betrayal is the kind you do to yourself. It’s okay to say no to things that stress you out, as long as it’s warranted.
  • Create boundaries. Don’t take your laptop to bed with you, or answer your boss’ calls at the dinner table. Just because you’re physically accessible all the time doesn’t mean you have to be. Set boundaries with your employer so you both understand you’re availability.

I know that with the abundance of technology in our lives, it can be nearly impossible to unplug, and that much easier to just shoot off one more email, or take that call from your boss. But remember, the more your work life filters into your personal life, the more you’re losing that balance that’s so important to your health and happiness.

Just ask Emily — once she started getting her balance back, she became more productive, happier, and less overwhelmed in all aspects of her life.

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