When we think of work/life balance it’s usually life that gets the “hit”. Unfortunately, many professionals still struggle to get past their assumptions (and their deeply ingrained habits) around work hours, despite the overwhelming data that suggests that working long hours can be harmful to both employees and companies. In some other cases, people find it challenging to stop thinking of work, even when they get home or as they spend time with friends and family, which may have an impact on their relationships and generally their wellbeing.
Here are a few tips that will help you achieve a work-life balance that is more sustainable and satisfying.
Start with the basics
Having a work/life balance is usually less about dividing our time and more about dividing our energy throughout our day. The amount of energy we have each day may depend on how nourishing our diet is, how deep and long is our sleep, how much we move our body and the quality of our relationships. Equally, chronic illnesses and inflammation in the body, long working hours, and dysfunctional relationships are some of the factors that deplete our daily amount of energy. So, make sure you are making healthy choices and have as much energy as possible for the things that matter to you.
What’s the context?
Everyone is different, so aim to understand your situation. Are you working long hours out of habit or is it situational? Are you new and still worried about your performance? Is there a big deadline coming up? Whatever your situation is, you need to be clear about it. Remember work/life balance can look different from person to person, so maybe ask yourself “Which are my priorities right now, given my work goals, and desires in my personal life?” “What do I make and with what sacrifices?”.
In addition, paying attention to your emotions or how a situation is making you feel, is just as vital as having a rational understanding of the choices and values guiding your life. To decide what changes, you want to make in your life and at work, you must be aware of your emotional state.
Aim for quality, not quantity
Work/life balance is not about dividing your time equally between work and life. When you conclude on your set of priorities, make sure you think of different ways to meet your goals. Sometimes a short walk with a friend may fit your busy schedule better than an hour in the gym while still getting the health benefits or having dinner with your whole family may be equally fulfilling to an hour in the playground with only your children. What matters is showing up for what’s important in meaningful rather than quantifiable ways.
If you find yourself “bringing” work home with you, then schedule a “worry time”, set the timer for 10-15 minutes and allow yourself to only think/worry about work. You can do this either alone or with a friend or partner who is happy to listen. When the timer goes off you will move on to something different. Studies have shown that learning to control the worry for a designated period of time, frees up the mind for other more important, interesting or fun activities!
Sharing is caring
There is nothing wrong with sharing your priorities, struggles and worries with your loved ones. Not only do you give them the chance to support you (which I am sure they would love to do) but also helps with holding yourself accountable. In case you become aware that habits are holding you back, maybe getting a better understanding of them with the help of a therapist may also be helpful.
Work/life balance looks different from person to person, and YOU get to decide how it will look for yourself.
By Ilia Galouzidi
Existential Counsellor MBACP, Counselling Psychology Trainee, GBPsS
This blog has been written in collaboration with Support Room, the online therapy and mental wellbeing experts. Anytime Fitness members can benefit from an exclusive discount with them and access therapy from just 80p per day. Visit AF Connect Online to find out more & claim your discount.