Work- Life Balance
What is it
While the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of work-life balance is “the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities”, it is almost impossible for a full time worker to spend as much time in activity hours outside of work as they do at work. Modern day society has people working harder and longer, often with less time spent with family and/or friends. Most workplaces will have policies and procedures in place that promote healthy workplaces, both physically, mentally and emotionally. In supporting their workers in achieving a positive work-life balance, and employer will benefit from a happier workplace resulting in higher productivity overall.
What it includes
Achieving work-life balance means ensuring that you focus your energies on ALL the important aspects of your life. These include:
• Social engagement
• Personal development
Not having work-live balance can cause symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Having depression is different from feeling sad or down. Depression is often greater and often longer lasting than feeling sad. As each person experiences symptoms differently, symptoms may include: lowered motivation to engage in our normal activities; not experiencing the same positive feelings from activities that we normally do; feeling lethargic and tired most of the time; being more tearful than normal; being easily angered or frustrated with people; avoiding people and social networks; turning up to work late more frequently; difficulty managing tasks more than normal; reduced appetite; increased used of alcohol to cope; having less confidence in doing usual tasks; increased sick leave; more negative thought patterns; and lack of hope for the future.
Each person experiences the symptoms of anxiety differently. Symptoms may include: difficulty breathing when not doing any excessive physical exercise; difficulty when faced with new or unfamiliar situations; difficulty in unfamiliar social situations; increased heart rate; increase sweating/body temperature; chest pain; fidgeting or feeling more on edge and tense; dryness in the mouth; feeling scared with no obvious reason being present
As with depression and anxiety, each individual person may experience the symptoms of stress differently. Some stress can prompt us to action, to improve a situation which we are not happy with. Excess stress is detrimental to us both physically and emotionally. Being over-stressed can result in reduced productivity, reduced interpersonal relationships, and overall quality of life. Symptoms of stress include: overwhelm with normal work activities/tasks; less productivity; increased absenteeism; sleep difficulties; irritability; difficulty winding down at the end of the day; over-reacting to situations; and being intolerant of interruptions.
How a psychologist can help
• Ensure that you are getting at least 30 minutes exercise per day. If you can incorporate nature into your exercise, even better.
• Ensure you make time for family and friends. Spending time with people important to us assists in maintaining positive mental health and a sense of connection.
• Ensure you engage in a hobby/recreational activity on a regular basis. This increases our sense of enjoyment in life, and often gives us a sense of achievement.
• Take time out to relax, to put your feet up and take time out from the “hussle and bussle” of life.
• “Tune in” to yourself and any potential indicators of depression, anxiety and stress. Early and ongoing implementation of the above strategies can assist to guard against imbalance in your work-life balance.
If a person continues to have difficulty, many businesses offer support services for their employees such as Employee Assistance Programs. Engaging in psychological support can assist with building a “tool box” of strategies to assist a person obtain work-life balance.