With uncertainty making its way into just about everything we do at the moment, Mental Health Awareness week is more important than ever
4 ways to improve your work-life balance
The growing pressure of a more demanding work culture has amplified our focus on mental health. How can you ensure you have a healthy work-life balance?
Do we work to live or live to work? Either way we’ve all dreamt of that ideal job where we needn’t ‘work’ another day in our lives. But for the majority, it can be a constant battle in keeping our professional and personal lives separate. Yet this seems an impossible task when technology removes such boundaries. We live in a world where our work demands so much of us that we complain about not having enough time and in turn, this has amplified our focus on mental health. It’s no wonder so many people find it tricky to have a healthy work-life balance.
Here’s some guidance to striking that balance:
1. Turn it off
We all have that friend who you attempt to have a conversation with, yet he or she is busy typing away incessantly on their phone pretending to listen to you. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be that person. That’s why it’s important to unplug yourself. It’s not as if technology is going anywhere. We are slaves to our devices nowadays, so much so that we forget to appreciate the more simple and natural pleasures in life.
With all the benefits that technology brings, it also means that we’re constantly accessible. It’s now commonplace to check work emails around the clock and make business calls during weekends. Some governments however, have tried to address such societal issues. For example, French workers now have the legal right to disconnect from work emails outside of their working hours.
According to Brooks, “resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,” while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress. Whether you’re waiting for likes on that Instagram post or responding to a work email, controlling the urge to look at our screens initiates discipline. When that weekly screen time reminder comes through on your phone, challenge yourself in reducing that time. We are creatures of habit so the more you reduce your reliance on devices, the more natural it will become.
2. Perfectionism is unrealistic
During the times we are overworked, sometimes it’s best to accept your work is not perfect but that it’s still good enough. More often than not, perfectionists set unrealistic standards driven by fear and all or nothing scenarios. As a result, they tend to achieve less overall and stress more than those who instead strive for excellence.
This type of behaviour is also known as toxic productivity. Social media has influenced the modern era by facilitating the idea of perfectionism. We are always trying to be better, but frequently at the expense of our work-life balance.
Leave work where it belongs – at work. Go for those post-work drinks with your colleagues. If you feel as though you don’t have enough hours in the day for your work, devise a schedule. Devote certain amounts of time to each project and prioritise. Work smarter, not longer.
Working from home can be a different kettle of fish entirely, particularly as you’re able to dictate your own environment. A dedicated workspace can help create a boundary between your ‘work’ and ‘life’ in your own home.
The Guardian claims that “millennials (those born after 1980) are more likely than their elders to blur the lines between work and home.” Virtual meetings and opportunities to work from home are now more popular than ever. But in the midst of a pandemic, a new normal of remote working is clearly no surprise. Whether employers view this as an effective way of working remains to be seen for many.
4. Don’t ignore your body
This sounds pretty simple but it’s easy to become so wrapped up in a job that you subconsciously begin to ignore your body. And of course, health is the last thing you should be sacrificing for your work – both physical and mental.
Sometimes we become numb to our bodies’ desires, particularly when we experience high levels of stress. It may only take a conversation with a colleague to realise you’re working too hard or not making enough time for friends and family.
As an effective stress reliever, exercise is a natural solution. Yet we tend to neglect exercise the most, over other vital functions such as eating and sleeping. Exercise pumps up your endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters) and improves your mood and confidence. With the right amount of exercise in our daily lives, our mental health and work-life balance can improve drastically.
In summary, it’s about putting in place the strategies that work for you. These strategies should revolve around relaxation and taking control of when to work and when to unwind. Many people are unable to relax because they fear procrastination or being overtaken by competition when really, some downtime can help you recharge and build on a healthier mindset.