STRIKING A BETTER WORK LIFE BALANCE
Millions of people around the world struggle with maintaining a healthy work life balance. The fast pace of life in the 21st century makes daily existence a complex juggling act between personal and professional demands. Our technology-consumed society, the increasing demands of work and personal relationships, and economic pressures make self-care a luxury many people cannot seem to afford. In fact, recent studies show that approximately one in four Americans identify as being extremely stressed.
Unfortunately, stress negatively impacts our quality of life over time—weakening our immune system, sabotaging our mental and physical well-being, and increasing our chances of being affected by ailments of every kind. Although human beings thrive on a certain amount of positive stress that helps keep us focused and alert and optimizes our capabilities, too much has the opposite effect.
In order to transition from being chronically stressed to healthy and balanced in our personal and professional lives, certain lifestyle decisions and priorities must be made. The following suggestions provide an excellent roadmap:
Use work time productively and efficientlyMany people have sedentary, desk-oriented jobs that involve lots of down time. Although technological devices and social distractions can certainly help pass the time when work gets slow, proactively managing deadlines and staying on top of the details is actually a better way to reduce stress in the long-run.
Seek flexibilityRemain open to possible opportunities to work from home, telecommute, or other flexible scheduling options within your industry that help reduce the overall stress load and promote a better work-life balance.
Take short breaks
Human beings are simply not designed to withstand an endless monotony of tasks and changeless routines. Something as simple as taking a five minute break to walk around, get some fresh air, or stretch can help restore optimum mental and physical function. And never skip the necessity of a healthy lunch! Although skipping lunch (or other meals) helps some workers save time and may create the illusion of greater productivity—it is harmful in the long-run.
Set manageable daily goalsMany top performers in various industries begin each day with a “to-do” list. By outlining objectives for the day and simply quantifying goals, less time is wasted and greater productivity achieved: the result, less stress.
Music therapyMusic is a universal language, a medicine that helps by immediately calming the senses and soothing the soul. Whenever possible, bring your favorite music to listen to through an Ipod or other portable digital device. In most work environments, headphones are an acceptable way to enjoy the benefits of music while working or on break.
Forgive yourself for mistakes and imperfections. Use them as opportunities to learn and grow and not as reasons for self-judgment.
Divide chores and responsibilitiesIn marriages and other close domestic relationships, the simple act of dividing shared chores and responsibilities can go a long way toward preventing miscommunication, the unnecessary build-up of stress, and resentment.
UnplugHumans are more reliant than ever on technology. Disrupted sleep patterns, high levels of electromagnetic radiation, and greater distractibility are some of the unintended consequences. Be sure to take time each day to unplug from technology and occasionally walk away from tasks so that you can experience greater peace and clearer, more balanced perspective.
Seek social supportThe demands of a busy work and home life often leave people desperate for social support. Research has established a strong, undeniable link between those with healthy immune systems and greater social support.
Maintain your physical health
When facing work-related deadlines or stress in the home environment, it is easy to forget about the need for exercise and self-care. However, both represent vital components of a healthy, balanced life. Engage in a recreational sport or athletic hobby, or simply set aside time daily to perform a physical exercise routine. You will be amazed by the multifaceted benefits just 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can provide!
Treat stress and underlying mental health issues
Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all add a significant burden of stress to even the most successful life. If you are in need of mental health treatment for any reason, never be ashamed to seek the help of a trained, highly qualified professional. In this day and age, there are an abundance of options to choose from, and many holistic and spiritually-minded practitioners for those seeking alternative healing methods.