Nowadays, we hear a lot about self-care and work-life balance. So how do you get it right? We all have a different definition of what that balance looks like, so it is a very personal thing. It certainly isn’t about an equal 50/50 split between work and personal life all the time, because some days are going to demand other parts of us than others.
Here is a startling statistic - in 2017 Americans left 705 million (yes, million!) vacation days on the table. Can you imagine if everyone actually used all of their vacation days? How much less stress, dis-ease, and work productivity there would be at the workplace. Of course, this isn't the way many of us operate. We think if we work more, produce more (or get the raise, promotion, etc...) the better.
But stop and take a minute to look at yourself... Imagine what your life would life be like if you had a healthy work-life balance. Close your eyes and just imagine.... How does it make you feel? What would you be doing? Who would you be with?
I’ve worked with companies over the years to help them bring programs and services to their staff to promote a healthy work life balance, and having worked in the behavioral health field for close to 25 years and I can tell you from my own experience, bringing wellness into your work life can be HUGE challenge. Even when that’s the field in which you work.
But really, what does a healthy work-life balance even mean? Does your company or business offer programs to help with this? (If not, find out how you can HERE)
The key thing is to ensure that neither area of your life starts negatively impacting on the other – when it does, that is when levels of dissatisfaction creep in and stress levels go up as you try to keep everyone happy.
Getting the right balance is key so here are some top tips:
1. Healthy Boundaries
In our 24/7 culture where everyone expects us to constantly be accessible at all times, put your boundaries in place. And know that yes, when you hold to your boundaries you may find that people resist them. Especially if you haven't held them in the past.
If you promise family members you will finish work at a certain time, don’t then sneak off to do a few more emails later in the evening!
If you need to work outside of ‘normal’ hours then a conversation with loved ones as to how long you will be keeps things in an acceptable range. If you are only accountable to yourself - create a plan so that you are doing the same. Cultivate a self-care plan so you don't work all the time.
If you won’t be accessing work emails during certain time periods, put an ‘out of office’ message on so people know when they are likely to hear back from you. That way you won’t get 4 emails chasing you for a reply.
Be fully present with whatever you are doing or whomever you are with. If you spend your time thinking about other things rather than what you are meant to be focusing on in the moment, your thinking and decision making loses clarity and focus.
People know if you are not interested in them or what they are saying and that is how relationships fracture. You can’t ‘demand’ people do things for you either in work or your personal life, so develop great communication and engagement skills.
Be organized and develop your time management skills so things don’t drop between the cracks. Check emails at certain times. Your inbox is not a thing to be dipped into frequently like your favorite bag of sweets! It distracts you from what ever else you are working on or doing, which will then take twice as long to complete.
Keep a written ‘to do list’. Holding everything in your head just overloads your brain and depletes the resource you need for clear thinking. Write it down!
4. Personal Health and Energy
Get plenty of exercise, even a brisk walk at lunchtime will raise your endorphin levels, your body’s natural happy hormones that will help counter balance any stress chemicals.
Eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Caffeine and sugar will give you an instant energy surge but you will crash back down just as quickly, so replace the bar of chocolate or coffee with a handful of nuts and a herbal or green tea. Everything in moderation is the thing to keep in mind.
5. Make Time
Make time for family and friends, laughter and fun. Find hobbies that interest you and help you to switch off from your ‘to do list’.
Rest and relaxation are essential ingredients for you to recharge. Your body heals and regenerates when you sleep so make sure you get 7 to 8 hours in a night.
You will always have lots of things on your ‘to do list’. The key to getting them done with energy and clarity is to make sure you build your resilience levels up. And you do that by being fully present and making appropriate time for all aspects of your life.
Check out the best-selling book I co-wrote The Recipe for Success here for more great tips on cultivating a healthy-work life balance.
Check out www.nikkibuckstead.com for more information.