Some jobs are easy to walk away from at 5 PM. Others prove more challenging to do so, such as bringing home assignments to grade or answering calls from your supervisor at 10 PM. And especially for those currently working remote positions, creating space between work and life can be incredibly difficult.
For most, a work/life balance doesn’t arise naturally. However, it is a reality that we must work towards for the sake of our mental health. Many problems can arise from giving our work too much attention (especially when it’s time for rest or leisure), so it’s important to find solutions to allow a work/life balance a place to grow.
How to balance work and life
Burnout, stress and chronic fatigue can result from neglecting your needs for the sake of work. But truthfully, the more time you put towards caring for yourself, the more energy and motivation you’ll have to perform better in the workplace.
1. Clarify your schedule
If you work from home, maintaining an office area at your house can feel like a luxury. However, having your workspace just a few steps from your family space can also have major downsides. Your employer, coworkers and consumers may be making calls and sending emails to you after-hours knowing you’re near your workspace. If you don’t occupy your schedule with evening plans, you might find yourself filling your free time with work tasks.
Creating clear boundaries between work time and leisure time is essential to mental health. Turn your work notifications off or set an automated email reply for after-hours to help you focus on downtime and de-stress from the workday. Clarify your work hours with your employer as a reminder to both yourself and your boss that expectations should be appropriately managed. Ask your family to keep you accountable, especially if they see you answering emails or taking calls when you’re not scheduled to do so.
2. Decide on your priorities
Take some time to reflect on your priorities, factoring in career aspirations, family and what’s reasonable for you to achieve at your stage in life. Is your career helping you get where you want to go? Is it draining the life out of you? We spend most of our days at work, so making sure the work you do is fulfilling is important to maintaining a healthy quality of life.
If you’re at a juncture where you’re hoping to move up the ladder, maybe start taking steps to increase your skills, and network and prove your dedication to growth. On the other hand, perhaps you find satisfaction in your job, but want to dedicate more time to your family. If you feel like your job conflicts with the things you hold most important, take time to seriously consider what changes need to happen to prioritize your family life.
3. Use your weekends and vacation days
Don’t be afraid to use the time off that is given to you. Maybe this is planning a full-blown vacation; maybe it’s something simple and enjoyable, like going camping over the weekend. Make family movie night a thing, invite friends over for board games and go on adventures within your own town or city. Although it may feel like there’s no “reason” to take vacation days, they’re there to be used. So take advantage for the sake of your mental health.
4. Keep your bodily health in mind
Even if the bulk of your job involves sitting in front of a computer, find time to move your body throughout the day. Start implementing walking meetings, take your phone calls outside while you stroll around the block or ask about installing a standing desk in your office.
It is recommended that adults should not be sedentary for more than 30 minutes at a time. Set timers or make a commitment to getting some movement in every half hour, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs for the sake of moving.
In addition, drink plenty of water throughout the day and give your eyes some needed rest from the blue light of your phone and computer screen at regular intervals.
5. Try to find joy in your work
Sometimes work feels monotonous and robotic-like a record on repeat in an old antique store. For this reason, it becomes our responsibility to find little joys and things to be grateful for throughout the day: looking forward to the three-day weekend, getting coffee to enjoy on your commute or celebrating victories with your coworkers. Not only does gratitude change our perspective, it allows us to seek the positive even on negative and exhausting days.
Solutions to a work/life balance
Balancing work life and home life is a challenge for many, especially those with a job that has blurry boundaries. However, actions like keeping leisure hours free from work, using vacation days and always striving to find joy in work are practical ways to promote a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re struggling with finding solutions to the problems of a work/life balance, know that Pyramid Online Counseling is always here to help. Teletherapy can connect you with licensed healthcare professionals, ready to help you effectively manage the challenges of setting healthy boundaries in your life.
Call 866-203-0262 today – or reach out online – for help in maintaining a professional work/life balance despite any of the obstacles that come your way.