Achieving balance in life is crucial.
Today, life is incomparably faster than ever before. The lines between work and play are blurring every day and as life evolves, achieving balance is even more critical than ever.
A survey of about 1,200 workers in each of eight major economies around the world found that one-third of full-time workers are having a hard time managing work-life balance.
We all know that a balanced life feels great – everything works like one well-oiled fluid machine. Work is not a burden, and you have fun with your family and friends. You are healthy and fit and find the time to engage in your favourite hobbies. You balance high pressured jobs and demands of home life effortlessly and spend quality time with your kids and family.
But is this how you really feel?
If not, then read on.
Finding balance is not only beneficial for your mind and wellbeing but also has benefits for your health, sleep and productivity. Experts agree that the compounding effects of continued stress from leading a life without balance can be hazardous and harmful.
So how can you achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance?
When you are healthy, you can accomplish anything. Physical activity has many benefits for the body and your mind. It also naturally reduces stress by releasing endorphins – the happy hormones – which reduces depression and anxiety, and lifts your mood quickly.
When you are less stressed, you will find that work is more enjoyable. You can work efficiently as your self-efficacy levels increase, thus improving your productivity.
Regular exercise should be part of your daily life. If you don’t have the time, start small like taking a 30-minute walk. Or take up an activity which is fun and engaging and gets you moving. But make sure you stick with your exercise plan regularly.
Your body needs nourishment to function and that comes from consuming a healthy meal. Pack in lots of vegetables and fruits which contribute several essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to your diet. Integrate other healthy foods into your diets such as lean protein and healthy fats.
Make use of online meal planners or talk to a nutritionist to plan your healthy meals and to save on time and effort spent shopping for groceries, preparing meals and cooking.
And don’t forget to pack a healthy balanced lunch for your work days too.
Meditation and mindfulness are said to provide the much-needed work-life balance as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the body’s rest and digest response.
Deep breathing exercises and grounding your senses in the present moment soothe the sympathetic fight or flight response and eases psychological stress like anxiety, depression and pain.
All you need is 5-10 minutes every day to start your practice. Over time you will notice a sense of calm within you when you encounter stressful situations. You will also find that your productivity at work has improved tremendously and that you are much happier than before.
The key to achieving that elusive work-life balance is setting limits on your time.
When you spend all your time for work and other obligations, you do not have time for self-care and other activities that add meaning to your life. Your friendships and relationships begin to suffer, and over time this can negatively impact your mental wellbeing.
So, it’s essential to learn to say no to unreasonable requests from co-workers and others without feeling guilty if it does not fit into your schedule or if it’s something you don’t want to do.
Make a list of what’s important to you and prioritise your time to include activities you enjoy. Create boundaries so that meaningless activities don’t suck into your time.
Leave work at work
In the age of connected technology, you are always connected to work by emails, text messages, mobile phones and other platforms. This means that you are in demand 24/7 which plays havoc with your personal life, creates conflict in your work-life balance, and causes unnecessary stress even when you are not at work.
It’s important to make a conscious effort to leave work at work and create a balance between your work life and personal life.
It also helps to reduce the number of times you check your email at work. A typical office worker receives 121 emails per day while spending half the time they work at home on emails.
Reduce email access after work hours and learn to check your emails to no more than three times during work hours.
Invest in yourself and your relationships
Doing something for yourself is probably the hardest thing to do especially when you have so many work and personal commitments. But doing something that you enjoy like getting a massage, learning how to paint or scheduling some time for coffee with your best mate can add to your happiness.
Its also important to take some time out for yourself just for yourself, whether it is to spend time meditating, painting or doing some yoga. You will notice that it brings down your stress levels, increases your happiness and you feel a sense of peace in all your endeavours.
Your relationships are vital to your happiness, and good relationships are crucial to achieving balance in your life. Set aside quality time with your significant other, your family, children and your best friends and invest in these relationships.
Most importantly learn to enjoy life and explore the world around you. Remember to laugh and have some fun as you navigate through the ups and downs of life.