These days, having work-life balance seems like an elusive dream. Concerns of job security and a desire to climb the corporate ladder often incentivize longer work hours. People are tasked with balancing the demands of a successful career with those of family life, causing undue stress. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association states that 58% of Canadians report “overload” associated with their various roles. Here are some tips to help you achieve a more balanced life.
Define balance and prioritize
The definition of work-life balance varies for each person and evolves over time. Only by defining your own balance can you prioritize the essential. There will always be more work to do; part of work-life balance is creating an outlet to decompress. Block off periods to focus on what matters to you: spend distraction-free time with your children, grab a drink with friends, or soak in a long bath.
Think quality over quantity
We’re conditioned to equate long hours with dedication and success. Excessive days actually lead to burnout, increase stress and erode performance. A Stanford study revealed that productivity begins to decline after 50 hours a week and declines so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in continuing to work. Being able to achieve what you need to do in a healthy workday means that you have to manage your time more effectively. Maximize your day by prioritizing tasks, taking breaks to recharge and blocking out distractions.
Technology facilitates constant connection and makes it easier than ever to be always available, creating the feeling of a never-ending work day. In fact, 57% of workers think technology has ruined the concept of a family dinner. Set limits like only checking emails at certain times (i.e. not at the dinner table or in bed). Decide when to be accessible for work and when to unplug in order to avoid emotional exhaustion and chronic stress. A recent study by Colorado State University revealed it’s not just the amount of time spent on work emails that drains you, but the expectation of answering emails after hours.
Take care of yourself
Marilyn Puder-York of The Office Survival Guide says balance “also has to include self-care so that your body, mind and soul are being refreshed.” Exercise is important for both your physical and emotional well-being as it’s a highly-effective stress reducer. According to the Mayo Clinic, it gives you a kick of endorphins, distracts you from your daily worries and improves your mood, all of which better equip you to function in both your work and home life.
This story originally appeared on BC Living.
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