How does the old saying go? “Work to live, don’t live to work,” or something along those lines. Well, as great as it sounds to only ‘work to live’, many of us fall into the latter category. Don’t get me wrong, work can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling aspect of your life, but when you spend at least 40 hours a week at work, plus even more, travelling to and from, that motto seems to be less and less achievable.
If this sounds all too familiar, it might be time to do some self-evaluation and see what changes you could make to get your balance back on an even keel. To help, we reached out to some experts for their advice on how to achieve a better work-life balance in our lives.
Dr. Daniel Chanisheff of Green Square Health says the balance comes from not neglecting your own needs. “People often mistake health to mean the absence of a disease, but I think the Aboriginal definition of health is the most accurate, which states that 'health' is not just the physical well-being of an individual, but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community, in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their Community," Chanisheff explains. "So hold onto your hobbies, make any time you can for personal health and fitness, and keep in touch socially.”
Human beings are designed to compartmentalise our jobs, rather than have them infringe on other areas of our lives, but since technology has made this infringement worse than ever, due to constant emails, texts, and phone calls regarding work, outside of work hours, we have to be more mindful in order to create a healthy balance. Counselling Psychotherapist and Life Coach, Dr Karen Phillip weighs her thoughts; “It was more a professional or corporate issue, but now also seems to be infringing into trade jobs as well,” says Phillip. When we allow this to happen, we create an imbalanced life for ourselves, which then causes our relationships to suffer, be less productive and at have a higher risk in developing mental health issues. We should be striving for the ideal balance; which is to work eight hours a day, sleep for eight, and enjoy the remaining eight spent with friends, family and activities.
According to Life Coach, Jessica Ritchie, the key to surviving the juggling act is to know which balls are priority — this way you know which balls you can drop, and feel comfortable dropping, in order to keep the others in the air. “Understand which balls are made of rubber and will bounce back if dropped, and which ones are made of glass and can shatter,” Ritchie says. “Sometimes we find ourselves being able to do it all, and other times, we simply can’t – and quite simply, that’s life. There's great power in being able to say, ‘that’s not a priority right now, I’ll pop that ball down and pick it up when I can.’”
Former lawyer turned best-selling author of 'I Don't Want To Be Happy – Said No One, Ever!', Shadé Zahrai, suggests to take back the control. “Many people place a great deal of personal satisfaction on their performance at work, and they gain a sense of value from how ‘hard’ they work and the hours that they put in, as for some industries, ‘working hard’ has become a symbol of personal status,” Zahrai explains. “However, if prolonged, this cycle can have extreme detrimental effects on your personal wellbeing, job satisfaction and overall subjective sense of happiness. As such, it’s important to recognise that you’re in control here. When you acknowledge that you’re the one who decides what to do next, what time to leave, how to set your boundaries at work; then it’s not only empowering, but you can also be more productive, effective, creative, and happier at work, which should always be yours and your employer’s, long-term best interest.”
Adventure Coach and Behavioural Profilist, Leanne Blaney, says we need to create more selfish rituals for ourselves by making more time to do the things that we love to do — even though we may feel guilty about them. “One tip I have for my clients who get stuck in groundhog day is to be more mindful of setting activities aside regularly, purely for them. It can be regularly exercising every morning or doing yoga, gardening, walking along the beach; whatever it is they can do regularly, just for them,” Blaney explains. “By creating some certainty, that is having rituals, you can look after yourself physically and mentally so that you can limit the resentment, overwhelm, anger or frustration that may arise when you don’t have a balanced life.”
Another advice given by Workplace Wellness Expert, Rebecca Hannan, is to master the simple act of saying ‘no’. “Learning to say ‘no’, both in and out of the workplace is an essential skill to develop in mastering the art of creating a healthy and balanced life,” Hannan states. “By giving yourself permission to politely saying ‘no’ to things that create unnecessary stress in your personal and professional life, you’re able to feel more calm, focused and in control.”
According to Psychologist and Business Coach, Emi Golding, psychological research shows that there are higher rates of depression amongst perfectionists. “This makes complete sense,” says Golding. “If your standards are as high as ‘prefect’, you’re setting yourself up for constant disappointment, because you can’t achieve perfection 100% of the time. Perfectionism isn’t something we’re born with; it’s simply a self-taught pattern, something that we have practiced over and over again — and that’s good news, because it means we can also undo perfectionism and practice thinking in other healthier ways.”
A better work life balance can help productivity and reduce the risk of workplace injuries. The benefits will be felt both at work and at how. Take the quiz to see if you need to make some changes.