The holidays are over; time to get back to work. Don’t groan! Work is a good thing. It gives us purpose, establishes a routine, presents an opportunity to meet and interact with people and, of course, generates a paycheck. Work is good. On the other hand, it is sometimes easy to feel overwhelmed by work. Some people are so overloaded with time and scheduling conflicts that they have trouble coping. It might be time for a work-life balance check!
One of the biggest problems leading to burnout is role overload, and juggling between those roles. If you are a wife, mother, caregiver to elderly parents, supervisor at work and chief cook and housekeeper at home, you know what this merry-go-round like. It combines legal, professional ethical, physical and emotional obligations that are sometimes contradictory in what they demand from you, and when they overlap, consequences can range from confusion to conflict.
Work time versus family time is another common conflict. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to be both the perfect boss or worker and the perfect mom at the same time. How many of your kids’ sporting events have you missed? How often do you get a chance to help with your child’s homework? On the flip side, have you ever felt guilty about leaving work early, or missing an important meeting in order to attend to a child or another family member? These absences, along with the inability to concentrate fully at work because of personal concerns, can have real consequences, including being passed up for promotion.
So what do you do to ensure you can enjoy your life and fulfill work obligations in equal measure? Here are some solutions:
1. On-site childcare.
If there is no on-site program, why not try getting something started. Are there other mothers in need? Is there an empty office that can be turned into a playroom? There could be liability issues for your employer, so it’s important to do some research. But it’s worth looking into.
2. Eldercare initiatives.
It is possible to get outside help in caring for elderly parents, either with part-time care or by taking advantage of community support groups and activities. You don’t have to do it all yourself. For more information, please read: Caring for aging parents? Can’t do it alone. Here is how to get some help.
Does your employer have a fitness membership program that includes a financial incentive for joining a club? Becoming more fit increases your energy and helps to cope with stress. It could change everything.
4. Try to build some downtime to your schedule.
Some of us need to force ourselves to slow down. Plan a mini-vacation, a time to play with your children or see a play. A little relaxation can go a long way.
5. Prioritize your health.
If you are feeling unwell, either physically or mentally, get help immediately. Take a sick day; figure things out.
Put the phone down, close the computer screen, switch off the TV. Just for a while. Here are some reasons you will be healthier: Are you a nomophobiac? How to identify and treat smartphone addiction.
7. Know that there is no perfect balance.
You can strive for a perfect schedule, but you must realize that it’s only an ideal. Some days will have a greater focus on work, and others on your personal life, including family or hobbies or exercise. A schedule is good, but flexibility is important. You need to be able to cope with the unexpected. Besides, mixing things up can make life interesting.
Uneven work/life balance is a risk factor that can impact both physical and mental health. For more information about healthy work-life management, please visit Healthy Workers.