How to Achieve The Work-Life Balance You Need
So many of us convince ourselves that we have a good work-life balance. We buy into the idea that if we are not working ourselves to death, we don’t care about our jobs, we are not loyal to our company, we will be looked down upon by our co-workers, or worse, our bosses. We worry that we won’t be seen as a stellar employee, therefore we won’t be promoted. Basically the message is that if we don’t work ourselves to death we won’t get the gold star, the recognition, the accolades, the ego boost, the higher salary. We have painted ourselves into a corner of burn-out.
What we don’t realize is that when we are in constant motion and we are focused on work all the time, we are keeping our nervous system in fight or flight mode. Between the worry, the fast pace, the long hours, the fear that if you stop to take a break you will be looked down upon and your success will suffer, all these things will eventually affect our mental and emotional state. When we are in this state, our creativity becomes stagnant, our body is constantly pumping out cortisol and adrenaline. We begin to lose our joy, and everything around us begins to suffer in our personal life, our relationships and yes, even our careers.
Improving your Work-Life Balance after Identifying Burnout
When our body and mind are in a constant state of stress burn-out the immune system becomes compromised because it is under a constant state of attack. Chronic illness can set in. Some of these include: high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, neck and shoulder pain, sleep disorders, depression, chronic common colds. Most people don’t realize how serious stress and burnout can be. A sense of self-doubt and failure, feeling helpless, defeated and trapped, becoming increasingly cynical and negative.
Recognizing some the signs of burnout:
- A loss of motivation
- Feeling alone
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
- Lack of sleep, and general fatigue
- Lack of creativity and purpose
- Emotional numbness
How to Prevent Burnout for A Better Work-Life Balance
I tell my clients to start taking time throughout the day for themselves. This allows you to calm your nervous system multiple times a day. When you do this, think of it as rejuvenating yourself on a daily basis. This will prevent burnout, and research has proven that breaks are ultimately beneficial for productivity.
Here are some steps to take for your new work-life balance:
- Rise & Shine. When you wake up, start with a 5-minute guided meditation of your choice. This resets your nervous system and sets the tone for the day.
Take Mini Breaks at Work: When at work, take 5-10 minutes to stretch, go outside, take some deep breaths, have a nice refreshing drink (coconut water or rose tea.)
Drink Water, Please: Remember to drink lots of water while at work. Staying hydrated allows you to have more energy.
- Take a proper lunch. There used to be a time when taking a proper lunch, an hour or so, was expected. Many deals were made over the “Power Lunch”. I have heard stories now that some people are afraid to take lunch because it will make them look like less of a good employee. This goes back to how we have painted ourselves into not only a corner of burn out but shame. Make time to disconnect from the office. Go out or pack a lunch and find a nice place to eat it. Hopefully you have a nice break lounge. If the weather is nice, go outside and find a park to enjoy your lunch in. Then during the afternoon take another 5 to 10 minutes to stretch, take some deep breaths. You may ask, how am I going to get all of my work done? There are deadlines, my boss expects me to take calls and texts after office hours.
- Set Boundaries. You need to create boundaries with your boss and your co-workers. What are your proper hours? Aren’t you allowed to take breaks and lunches? What most of us don’t realize is that we teach people how to treat us. It’s like any other relationship, you must set the precedent. This is why boundaries are so important. If working yourself to the point of burnout is what is required for your current position, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your position. Creating a beautiful work-life balance makes for a healthier, happier person.
- Unplug to Recharge. Turn off the phone and stay away from electronics. This includes not looking at work emails or taking work calls. Try one Saturday. Plan three-day weekend getaways every now and again. Take that yearly proper week or two-week vacation.
These are all ways to be able to have an amazing career that you enjoy and a wonderful personal life that are both enriching and fulfilling. Aren’t you worth it?
Love, Peace, and Happiness!
Kirsten Louise Cantley