Finding a Work/Life Balance to Increase Mental Health
It’s not uncommon to feel like our lives become an unsavory routine of — wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, sleep and repeat. It can be much too easy to fall into an unhealthy habit of failing to balance work and everyday life. This can quickly lead to burnout, stress and overall low quality of life.
Balance out time spent at work and time spent doing the things you love. Sounds great, but how exactly do you do that?
It’s simpler than you might’ve thought.
What is a work/life balance?
A work/life balance is the fine line of ensuring that you neither spend too much of your life living in your place of employment nor blowing off responsibilities in favor of playtime.
It’s learning when to say no to overtime, an additional project or more responsibilities than you’re compensated for, and when to say yes, instead, to self-care, vacation time and healthy habits like exercise and hobbies.
That being said, it’s also about taking your work seriously and, when necessary, making sacrifices as a team player. A good work/life balance understands when to say yes and when to say no, in both cases.
Benefits of a work/life balance
When you make balancing work and life a priority you experience many benefits of a well-ordered life, including:
- Less likelihood of being absent from work as a result of stress;
- Reduced stress overall;
- Increased mental health and physical health (stress negatively impacts both);
- Increased productivity and motivation;
- Greater ability to be present in the moment;
- Healthier relationships;
- Boosted levels of both energy and creativity which can positively affect both the workplace and homelife;
- Better time management.
Achieving a work/life balance takes time and energy, but the time spent on setting good boundaries between work and leisure will significantly benefit your home life and your work productivity in the long run.
Tips for creating a work/life balance
The first step to achieving a work/life balance is understanding and seeking it, and the second step is taking proactive measures to make it a reality. While there are a number of ideas on how to have a work/life balance, consider some of the following tips to help you get started:
- Prioritize – Does every single email in your inbox need to be addressed today? Does this project deadline take priority over that conference call you could reschedule? By prioritizing your tasks, you can make sure you get the most important ones done first, giving you the peace of mind to leave work on time without feeling like you missed something big or should’ve stayed late.
- Say no – Maybe you just began a new career and are concerned about leaving for two weeks for an impulsive vacation. Perhaps you’ve been asked to take on an additional project to complete over the weekend, but you’ve already committed to attending a wedding out of state. Sometimes you just have to say no; this doesn’t make you an awful friend or lousy employee. It means you know what’s a higher priority in this situation.
- Let go of perfectionism – It’s a temptation we all fall prey to, but letting go of the need to be perfect goes a long way in reducing stress and increasing mental health. Maybe the laundry isn’t going to get done tonight; perhaps that presentation isn’t as long as you’d hoped. In the end it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, so long as it was completed thoroughly, with dedication and to the best of your abilities with the tools and time allotted to you.
- Devote time to relationships – This might be having dinner with your parents once a week, organizing a post-work happy hour with coworkers or meeting up with friends for brunch on the weekend. Spending time with people you know invites good conversation that can bring joy, offer new perspectives and reduce stress. It can also offer a safe place to vent and unpack when difficulties arise.
- Know your limits – If you feel yourself being pushed towards breaking, take a step back and a moment to regroup. Ask yourself, what’s pushing you to this point? What steps do you need to take to reset? Should you delegate tasks? Who do you need to talk to, to help you figure this out? Whatever the answers, it’s always better to respond proactively to stress and burnout rather than try to come back from it later on.
In addition, take time to examine what balances work and life for you. Whatever it is, prioritizing this balance will improve quality of life and mental health, definitely for yourself and possibly even for those around you.
For more information
If you’re worried about work/life balance in your life, or are searching for a way to boost this in the lives of your employees, consider contacting Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP. Our staff is dedicated to helping both employees, employers and individuals of all ages find mental health and stability.
Reach out today at (800) 543-5080.
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