3 secrets of a successful work/life balance
We all know that a healthy work/life balance is important, but as with so many things in life, actually managing it can prove difficult. Many of us lead such hectic lives now, rushing from one thing to the next with barely time to catch our breath. You may be a working parent, juggling a demanding job with a busy family life. You might have to put in extra hours because of the current economic pressures we all face. Or you may just work in a high-pressure environment, where you are expected to work evenings and weekends just to stay on top of a heavy workload.
Whatever your situation, you may feel that work or other pressures gobble up every hour in the day, leaving you little time to exercise, have fun, see friends and family or get enough rest and sleep. If this rings any bells, try the following:
1. Remember that it’s called a lunch ‘break’ for a reason. If you find yourself wolfing a sandwich while staring at your computer screen, you are not giving your poor, frazzled brain the downtime it so badly needs. Our brains are miraculous things and can absorb vast quantities of information in a day – but they need a break to process and absorb all that data. If you don’t take a break your performance will suffer. Your memory, concentration and decision-making will all be affected, so take a break every day - even if it’s just 20 minutes - and go for a walk, get some fresh air and remember there is a world outside the office!
2. Think long-term. Without wanting to scare you, working too many hours in a high-stress job will eventually take its toll. We all have to accept periods of extra pressure or hard work, but if that’s your pattern for years your health will suffer. You may develop chronic stress, insomnia, become anxious or depressed and even suffer burnout. And you are at risk of physical problems like tension headaches, migraines, back problems, stroke and cardiovascular disease. No job is worth that, so invest as much time and energy into your most valuable asset - your health - as you do your career.
3. Work smarter, not harder. If you suffer from ‘presenteeism’, perhaps because you feel under pressure to be at your desk from dawn till dusk, the quality of your work will suffer (see point 1). Remember that everyone needs time to rest and recharge their batteries. This may be making it home for bath time with your kids, or a game of squash after work. It might be coffee with an old friend or watching a movie that makes you laugh or cry (or both). A life lived in balance means working hard at something we enjoy, or find meaningful; a network of supportive relationships with close friends and family; regular exercise; activities we find energizing and inspiring; and plenty of rest and relaxation to prepare us for the next demanding day. Achieve this balance and your performance at work will be ten times better than if you spent every waking hour writing reports or staring at a screen.
Good luck with it – and remember that life’s too short to waste feeling stressed and knackered all the time…
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