For a growing segment of the business community, achieving a harmonious balance between work and life has become a key factor in achieving peak performance.
Work-life balance is vital for two reasons. Number one: it’s good business. Smart business people understand that encouraging work-life balance actually improves the flow of commerce by boosting workers’ creativity and productivity, and strengthening their loyalty to their employer. Number two: it’s good for your health. Work-related stress has become a leading contributor to a myriad of physical health problems — ranging from high blood pressure to auto-immune disorders — to say nothing of its toll on relationships and people’s emotional health. By keeping your stress levels to a minimum and prioritizing self-care, a balanced life may be the single most important lifestyle change you can make in achieving improved health.
But old habits remain hard to break. Many people readily agree that they need a healthy balance between their work and personal lives but struggle to actually achieve it. That’s because they first need to understand the root causes of their work-life imbalance before they can even begin to address it.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is when your mental, emotional and physical resources (including your time) are equal to the demands placed upon you, both personal goals and obligations stemming from the responsibilities you owe yourself, your family, and your community.
Think of it as an equation:
Mental resources + emotional resources + physical resources (including your time) = achieving your personal goals + fulfilling your responsibilities
The Root Causes of Work-Life Imbalance
Most people who suffer from work-life imbalance tend to assume the problem is one of time. They often lament, “If only there were more hours in the day!” But while we don’t have control over the passage of time, we do have control over what we do during it. If you feel that you don’t have enough time to achieve your goals and fulfill your responsibilities, then you may need to find additional resources to deal with them. More realistically, you probably need to reassess the goals and responsibilities you currently have.
Many people who struggle with striking a proper balance between work and life have a classic “Type-A” personality. Hard-driving “workaholics,” these individuals tie their sense of self-worth to money, power, and status, neglecting other equally important aspects of life, such as family and self-care. In most cases, they suffer from low self-esteem, believing they must rack up accomplishments in order to prove their value to themselves and the rest of the world.
Another category of people who suffer from work-life imbalance are people-pleasers/overachievers. Desperate for approval from employers, co-workers, friends, and family, they set unrealistic goals and expectations of themselves in a quest for external validation. Overachieving, which shouldn’t be confused with mature goal-setting (something that’s not only healthy, but also crucial for optimal health), is typically symptomatic of low self-esteem and anxiety.
More generally, people who have difficulty achieving balance fail to understand the necessity of rejuvenation.
Signs Your Life Lacks Balance
- A short temper: You have difficulty processing feelings of anger and frustration, and frequently lash out at others. You find it hard to empathize.
- Lack of joy: Everything feels like a chore. In extreme cases of imbalance, you may sink into depression.
- Fatigue: You lack opportunities to rest and rejuvenate.
- Constant worrying: Even when you’re not busy performing a task, your mind is continually dwelling on it, and what people will think of you if you do it well — or badly.
- Feeling sick: You find yourself more prone to getting colds, having headaches, and suffering from joint or muscle pains.
- Boredom: You feel caught up in an endless, all-too-predictable cycle.
- Lack of control: Your life no longer seems like it’s of your own making. It feels like you’re following a script.
- Addictive tendencies: You turn to other sources of emotional stimulation, such as food, TV, the Internet, and thrill-seeking, in an effort to reassert control.
Pitfalls to Avoid if You Struggle with Work-Life Balance
- Excessive multi-tasking: The more tasks you try to do at once, the less well you’ll do on any single one. This includes trying to juggle work tasks when you’re home.
- Trying to work faster: The way to achieve your goals is through efficient time management, not revving yourself up to work at an unsustainable pace. As a short-term tactic, working faster may produce results. Over the long term, however, it will leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally drained — and far less effective in achieving your ultimate life goals.
- Making promises you can’t keep: Don’t tell someone at work or at home that you’ll do something if you know you can’t realistically do it. You’ll only end up shortchanging the demands you already have, while simultaneously disappointing the other person.
This information was provided by Mental Health Pros.