In the last few years, the term “work/life balance” has become a common part of the American vocabulary.
As COVID forced so many Americans home, and juggling more responsibilities than ever, many were forced to see just how unbalanced their lives had been—and how much difference true balance could make in their health and happiness!
If you haven’t yet had that realization, now is a perfect time—as it’s Get a Balanced Life month, a prime opportunity to take a good, hard look at your work, your life and how they intermingle. Given that we’re at the start of a brand new year, you have even more motivation to make balance a top priority. Even if you don’t have that named as a “resolution” for 2023, many of the most common goals we all share at the start of a year—to work out more or eat better, spend time with friends and family, go after that big career move you keep thinking about—all could be closer to being achieved if we truly make balance a reality.
So, how can you go from just talking about work/life balance to actually achieving it? A lot of it comes down to setting some hard and fast rules—and holding yourself to them! For instance, if you have the opportunity to take on shifts when they open up, commit ahead of time to only working a certain number of hours, and scheduling in purposeful days away from work. While it can be tempting to work to your limit to earn and save, oftentimes, we may work past our limits—and that’s when balance can really be thrown into limbo!
Apart from avoiding overworking, unplugging is also a key part of achieving proper balance. Many of us are glued to devices around the clock (when we’re not on the clock!), which can make it far too easy to check in on work emails and team chats, or tackle our growing to do lists. Put the phone down! When you’re not physically at work, you shouldn’t be there mentally. When you get home, keep your phone or other devices out of social spaces like the living room and kitchen—so you can be you without still being at work.
Perhaps most important in pursuing balance is finding a job that fits your life—with the flexibility and autonomy you both want and need! If you don’t feel like you have that in your current role, be proactive about talking to supervisors to see if they can meet you where you are. Otherwise, be open to new opportunities, and make your own happiness and health your priorities as you head down that path.
It’s no stretch to say that your health can be tightly tied to how much balance you have (or don’t have!) in your life. Everything from chronic illness to depression and anxiety can be impacted by stress and burnout, which often can be avoided by drawing stronger boundaries between your work and home lives. So, take steps to invest in your health: Make exercise a part of your life, explore stress-relieving activities like yoga and be proactive about getting screenings.
When you’re used to working hard, slowing down and focusing on your own health and well-being may feel a little uncomfortable. But, when you invest in yourself, you’re better able to understand your own purpose, align your life and work around it and, ultimately, lead a balanced and fulfilling life.
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