We all play a variety of roles in life, which is probably a good thing. A growing body of research suggests that fulfilling multiple roles in our lives often has positive benefits, making us more satisfied and happy overall.
Often, however, reconciling all of our different roles (eg. parent, executive, friend, caregiver, volunteer etc.) creates a situation where our work-life balance gets out of whack. Many of us feel torn between our different roles and feel guilty when we are not able to pay as much attention to any one role as we'd like. When this type of internal conflict continues over time, our physical and psychological health is often affected, which can impact the quality of our relationships.
According to a major Canadian study conducted by Lowe, 1 in 4 Canadian employees experience high levels of conflict between work and family. Whether you are managing the care of a parent who has fallen ill, a divorce or relationship issues, a rebellious teenager, a new baby, or another significant event in your personal life, it's important to prioritize balance and make time for your health before stress takes its toll on your health. Need help? Click here to discover the most common barriers to achieving your health goals.
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What are some key factors that negatively influence work life balance?
• Having an overly demanding or stressful job (eg. more work on your plate than you could reasonably finish in a regular work week or work day)
• Doing work that is emotionally draining, causing you to feel depressed or to doubt your self-worth, or not rewarding (eg. very narrow job description, little room for growth or professional development)
• Working long hours (eg. more than 35-40 hours a week, or more than 8 hours in a day)
• Never "turning off" (eg. responding to work emails outside of work hours, not separating work life and home life)
• Having little opportunity for mental breaks and physical movement breaks during the workday day
• Feeling like your ideas are not heard or your contributions not appreciated
• Having relationship problems or undergoing a divorce
• Going through periods of intense family stress
• Having young children
• Caring for elderly relatives
• Personal financial stress
• Physical health issues
• Academic pressure
Below are 7 simple strategies to help you achieve a better work-life balance:
1. Know the signs: Take note of when you are feeling happy, fulfilled, and good about your work-life balance and take note of when you are not. Happiness doesn't just happen, it takes work. Check out our 4 week happiness challenge for emotional wellness tips and strategies. Can you identify any patterns in your behaviour? Click here for tips on how to identify red flags. Keeping track of how you feel throughout the week or month may help you identify things you need to stop doing, start doing, or keep doing to achieve a healthy work life balance.
2. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach: Trying to achieve the “perfect” work life balance can just be another unreasonable demand you put on yourself. Try and work out the best solution for you, don't copy what seems to work for someone else.
3. Speak up: Tell your manager, your spouse, your loved ones, and other important people in your life about your goals and your needs as they relate to work-life balance. If you don't speak up, it's hard to get the support you need from those around you.
4. Know when to cut yourself off: Working long hours is not only a drain on your own energy levels, it often also takes a toll on your relationship with your spouse and family members. Is there a way you can work more efficiently to reduce hours? Can you delegate certain tasks? Are you staying at work late because you genuinely need to or because you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?
5. Manage your phone and email use: It’s easy to get caught up in calls, texts, and emails even during off work hours and while you are on vacation. Plan your communications wisely. You may find it more effective to limit checking your email to a certain time of the day - vs. letting your inbox manage your daily agenda. Schedule specific times of the day when you actually turn your phone and computer off entirely to support healthy sleep habits and emotional downtime.
6. Don’t let your job take over your life: It’s great to love your job, but it's also important to enjoy engaging in leisure activities and spend time with your family and friends. If you find you are thinking about work all the time, it may be a warning sign of a potentially problematic pattern of behaviour.
7. Prioritize your health: Build exercise and active rest into your daily life to reduce stress. For example, learn how to meditate or practice yoga. If you are feeling overwhelmed, work with a psychologist or coach to help you manage your priorities and to help you relax. Don't spend 8 hours a day sitting behind a screen - try to stay more active throughout the day. Get restful sleep and stay socially connected.
Do you feel stressed out and anxious? Are you concerned about your health? Click on the button below to learn more about preventive health and specialist services.