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How to Get a Work Life Balance

In this article, you’ll discover what a work life balance consists of, why it is important, and how to maintain one.

How to Get a Work Life Balance - Iris Healing®

Article Contents

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance has gained more attention in the last few years as an important piece of a healthy work environment. Maintaining a balance between work responsibilities and personal life helps manage stress levels and prevent burnout in the workplace.
Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace. It can lead to physical consequences such as hypertension, digestive troubles, chronic aches and pains, and heart problems. Chronic stress can also negatively impact mental health, as it is linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.1

What Does a Work-Life Balance Mean?

By definition, work-life balance involves minimizing work-related stress and establishing a stable and sustainable way to work while maintaining health and general well-being. Although there isn’t a single magic formula for balancing work and life, a work-life balance generally means living an equally fulfilling personal and professional life.

What Does a Good Work-Life Balance Look Like?

Work and home-life balance will look different for everyone and is not always easy to figure out. Although it can be challenging to change, there are ways to improve work-life balance.

Meeting Deadlines While Still Having Time to Socialize and Enjoy Life

For some, a healthy work-life balance may look like meeting deadlines while also having time to socialize with friends and family after work. For others, it may mean engaging in hobbies and interests while also focusing on professional responsibilities.

Getting Enough Sleep and Eating Well

Having enough time to sleep properly, exercise, and eat well is an excellent indicator that home and work life are well-maintained.

Not Worrying About Work When at Home

Ideally, people should not have to worry about work when they are home or during personal time. A good goal is to switch from one mode to another while feeling energized, equipped, and not burnt out.

In other words, people should be able to give each area of their life their full attention, which is difficult to do if the balance is off.

How Do I Know if My Work-Life Balance Is Unhealthy?

Work-life balance is constantly evolving. What works for you at one point in life may need to be adjusted at another. To successfully maintain this balance, you should engage in the following five-step cycle regularly.

Step One: Pause and Ask Yourself

First, pause and de-normalize. Ask yourself what currently is causing you stress, unbalance, or dissatisfaction. You must acknowledge these issues before you can change them.

Step Two: Pay Attention to Your Feelings

Next, pay attention to your emotions. How does this make you feel? Are you energized, fulfilled, or satisfied? Or are you feeling angry, resentful, or sad?

Step Three: Reprioritize

Then, reprioritize your goals, purposes, and plans. Increasing your awareness of the situation and taking stock of your feelings gives you the tools to determine your priorities and if they need to change. Think about what you are willing to sacrifice and for how long. You have the power to align your time allocation with your list of priorities.

Step Four: Consider Your Alternatives

Now consider your alternatives. Before jumping into solutions, reflect on the aspects of your work and life that could be changed or improved. Are there components of your job you would like to see change? How much time would you like to spend with family or on hobbies?

Step Five: Make Changes

Finally, it is time to implement changes at work. For example, you may choose to make a “public” change, such as taking on a new role or changing your designated schedule. On the other hand, you may make a “private” change, in which you informally change your work patterns without necessarily attempting to change your colleagues’ expectations.

Signs Your Work-Life Balance Needs a Reset

There are some common signs that your work-life balance needs a reset.

You Stop Taking Care of Your Body

You might notice that you’re staying up too late, having trouble staying asleep, no longer exercising, or not eating at all.

Your Mental Health Is Going Downhill

You are experiencing more symptoms of anxiety or depression. Perhaps you’re more irritable or impatient. You may even experience dread, restlessness, hopelessness, panic attacks, or mood swings.

You Just Don’t Care Anymore

Work no longer feels meaningful, you aren’t connecting with your colleagues or clients anymore, or you simply don’t care.

You Feel Incompetent

No matter what you do, it feels like it’s never enough. You’re always behind, and the quality of your work is suffering. You constantly worry about your job performance and fear (but maybe also secretly fantasize about) getting fired.

These are all examples of red flags indicating that something is unbalanced in your work-life situation and you need to reset.

Reasons Why Work-Life Balance Is Important

So, why is work-life balance important? The following includes various examples of why work-life balance is an essential part of well-being.

Improves Mental and Physical Health

Perhaps the quickest result is that better balance will mean less stress. Chronic stress is a big issue and can significantly impact mental health. Finding balance will improve mental health and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Once you give yourself more time to sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage in active hobbies, you should notice positive changes in your physical health.

Research has shown that working long hours and overworking leads to many physical and mental problems, such as heart disease, depression, anxiety, and diabetes. Thus, learning how to balance time between work and your personal life is vital to your health.2

Improves Relationships

Achieving a work-life balance will enhance your ability to be present and improve your relationships. In the workplace and at home, having the mental space to be fully present can forge deeper connections.

Improves Creative Thinking

A balanced lifestyle will also increase your engagement and creative thinking at work. When you aren’t struggling with feelings of dissatisfaction, you are free to explore and use creative problem-solving. This can lead to much higher levels of professional success.

How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Work Life Balance
Accepting that there is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance is essential. You may have a picture in your head of a perfect schedule, but remember to be realistic and logical when planning a balance. Some days you might need to focus more on work, and other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones.

Consider a New Job

You may want to look for a new job that you genuinely love. While you don’t need to love every day of your job, it should be a place that you look forward to when you wake up in the morning. One study found that burnout and stress were the top reasons people decide to look for a new job.3

Make Small Personal Changes

Perhaps you want to focus on improving your health. Small changes like cooking more meals at home, prioritizing sleep, or adding physical activity to each day can have a significant impact.

Set Boundaries and Prioritize Self-Care

Don’t be afraid to unplug regularly. Self-care is crucial but is often the first thing that is sacrificed when you get overwhelmed. Therefore, setting boundaries and work hours can give you the freedom to unplug and unwind. For example, turning off your work phone during the evenings or while on vacation to make time for yourself and your loved ones.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2018, 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days, stating they were worried about the consequences of taking time off. While this reason may overwhelm and intrude on many people’s thoughts, health and well-being should always be a priority.4

Map Out and Regularly Review Goals

The last thing that can help is to set a clear list of goals and priorities and regularly check in to make sure you are spending your time in a way that aligns with your list.

Get Help for Work-Life Balance at Iris Healing®

Get help with your work-life balance at Iris Healing®. Our team can help you review your personal situation and help work out solutions to bring your life into balance.

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