The phrase work-life balance pops up more and more often these days, but many of us still struggle to understand it, let alone define it within our own lives. Does it even exist?
Work-life balance is typically known as a healthy relationship between your working hours and the rest of your time—otherwise known as your life. With new demands in the workforce and evolving family structures, work-life balance can be difficult to maintain. Not only that, but it will look different for everyone. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people found themselves working from home. For some, this brought a sense of peace and a healthy work-life balance. For others, this irrevocably intertwined the two; they were left with no sense of balance whatsoever.
Why is Work-Life Balance Important?
As it turns out, humans can’t run on stress and stress alone. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for both employee and employer alike.
Avoiding Burnout: Burnouts can easily occur when employees have too heavy a workload without sufficient breaks, causing the team to make mistakes or perform poorly. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, employees cost approximately $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending due to psychological and physical burnout. Burnout is no joke.
Lowering Health Risks: Speaking of healthcare, an unhealthy work-life balance runs a serious risk to your overall health. Stress can be linked to heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, and suicide. It’s as simple as understanding your body’s needs; you need sunshine, sleep, exercise, and rest. You simply cannot get these things if you are spending all day at the office or in front of a computer. By taking breaks and time away from work, you can make sure you’re finding time to take care of your body.
Better Engagement: Having a healthy work-life balance leads to better engagement in all aspects of your life. You are far more likely to work more efficiently at your job if you don’t resent the time you are dedicating to it. In your personal life, you’ll have more time and energy to cultivate your relationships and interests.
How to Practice Work-Life Health
Work-life balance is different for everyone. Only you know your maximum output and required amount of rest. Think about what fulfills you, then decide what you need each day. Here are some tips to help guide you.
Efficiency: Be efficient with your time while you’re at work. Don’t procrastinate. Manage your tasks wisely; understand what you are capable of each day and meet those deadlines. The sense of accomplishment and pride in your work will encourage you in your career. Not to mention you’ll feel better when you get home at the end of each day.
Communication: Be clear with your colleagues and bosses about what you need. Don’t complain but be direct when you’ve got too much on your plate. Take a breath and react calmly. This is important for your personal relationships as well!
Unplug: When you’re home, be home completely. Unplug your devices, put away your phone, and dive into quality time with yourself and your loved ones.
Take a Break: Take breaks before you need them. Small or large, pay attention to what you need and act accordingly.
Work-life balance is crucial to maintaining optimal wellness in all aspects of your life. It’s worth taking some time to focus on what that looks like for you and implementing those changes. So, the short answer? Yes, work-life balance can exist. The trick is finding out what works for you.