Here’s a phrase you may know all too well: life can be overwhelming. Juggling deadlines, assignments, social activities, relationships, hobbies— sometimes, it seems impossible to manage it all. Here’s the good news— it’s not only possible, but necessary, to find the balance between your work life and personal life. The stress associated with work-life imbalance can contribute to a number of issues, including reduced productivity, irritability, depression, and strained concentration. In addition, work-related stress has been attributed to health problems such as weakened immune system functions and increased risk for heart attacks (“Work Life Balance,” n.d.). With that being said, it’s time to find stability in the balancing act of work and life.
If the scales seem to be tipped, you’re not alone. According to Kovachevska (2020), 66% of U.S. workers feel they lack a healthy work-life balance. Even more shocking, 77% of full-time workers in the U.S. have experienced burnout at their job (Kovachevska, 2020). Burnout is a term used to describe the exhaustion one feels during their work. Burnout can look differently to each individual; some symptoms include reduced motivation, increased anxiety, insomnia, feeling emotionally overwhelmed, and irritability. While there can be numerous causes of burnout, some factors that contribute to job burnout are a lack of control over key aspects of your job such as scheduling, toxic workplace environments, lack of support from employers and coworkers, and vague job expectations. Becoming a workaholic, or identifying strongly with work and dedicating excessive amounts of time to it, can also create an imbalance and result in burnout. According to researchers, 48% of Americans consider themselves to be workaholics (Kovachevska, 2020).
How do we redefine our work-life balance and prevent burnout?
Set manageable goals. You know that feeling you get when you check something off your to-do list? That satisfaction and sense of accomplishment? That’s what we’re looking for when setting manageable goals. Research has shown that the more control we have over our work, the less stress we experience, as stated in the article “Work-Life Balance: Tips to Reclaim Control” (2020). Reflect on your responsibilities and set goals for yourself that are achievable. Communicate effectively. It’s important to communicate with your supervisor about any concerns you may have. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, it may be beneficial to meet with your supervisor and discuss delegation. If deadlines seem unreasonable, it may be best to ask your supervisor for flexibility. Overall, establishing a dialogue with your supervisor to communicate your needs can lead to a more effective and productive work environment. Evaluate your satisfaction. Life is too short to work jobs you don’t love or feel valued in. We understand that work isn’t always going to feel rewarding or energizing; sometimes, it’s just going to feel like work. But if you love what you do, your work feels fulfilling, or your company strives to ensure you feel valued and heard, then it’s worth the effort. If not, it can be difficult to find motivation and may be time to reevaluate your satisfaction with your company.
In a time where many of us are working from home, it is crucial to be able to set boundaries between your work life and personal life. If your home has turned into your workspace due to the pandemic, here are some tips for maintaining balance in your at-home workspace:
Have set work hours. Sometimes, working from home can feel like you’re always on the clock. To combat this, talk with your supervisor to set a flexible schedule for yourself. If you set your work hours from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, then commit to it. Allow yourself to detach from work after 5:00 PM and use that time for you.
Set up a workspace just for you. Trust us, we know how tempting it can be to set up your laptop on your bed for work. However, this technique can affect your productivity and contribute to distractions. In addition, working from your bed affects your sleep, as it blends your personal and work space into one. Instead, try getting dressed (yes, I mean in something other than pajamas) and move into another room. Make the space yours! Set up everything you’ll need
there— your laptop, charger, pens and pencils, a calendar. Utilize this space for work so your bedroom can remain personal.
Stay as active as possible. Sitting for long periods of time can lead to health concerns, as discussed by Laskowski (2020). Laskowski suggests finding time to move every thirty minutes or consider a standing desk for long work days. Perhaps you can even schedule a “walk and talk” with a colleague you need to discuss business with. If possible, take a break midday to go outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery.
Make time for yourself. Whether it be reading your favorite book, taking a bubble bath, or sharing a laugh with friends, make sure to prioritize time for favorite self-care activities. Working from home can be draining; thus, it is essential for your mental health to allow yourself time to sit back, relax, and breathe.
Life can be overwhelming, it’s true. However, with effective strategies and the support of loved ones, you can overcome anything. You got this!
Here at the Counseling with Natalie Team, we are proud of you.
By Missy Boyanton, Content Research Intern
Job burnout: how to spot it and take action. (2020). Mayo Clinic.
Kovachevska, M. (2020). 30 home-invading work-life balance statistics for 2020. HealthCareers. https://healthcareers.co/work-life-balance-statistics/
Laskowski, E. (2020). What are the risks of sitting too much? Mayo Clinic.
Olsson, V. R. (2020). 7 ways to redefine work-life balance during the pandemic. The Enterprisers Project.
Work life balance. (n.d.). Mental Health America.
Work-life balance: tips to reclaim control. (2020). Mayo Clinic.