Work-life balance is a familiar phrase, especially with the advent of hybrid working and advanced technology. Once there was a neat home-work divide separated by a commute, but now you can work at any time, in any place, jeopardising a healthy balance of work, home, family and friends.
More Than A Number
A work-life balance isn’t something you can achieve, merely by clocking up the right number of hours at work and at home. A good balance means that you’re able to absorb yourself in work and throw yourself into the things you love. It means you can meet your deadlines while getting sufficient sleep, eating well, meeting friends, pursuing hobbies and not thinking about work while you’re at home. In a world of burnout, this can seem like an unattainable dream.
The British workforce recognises the benefits of a good balance, ranking it as the leading factor when choosing a new job. Even salary doesn’t compete with the attraction of healthy boundaries at work. However, 88% of this workforce said they had experienced burnout in the past two years, with eight out of ten attributing this to a poor work-life balance. One third of participants also claimed to have suffered from mental and physical exhaustion because of work pressure. The pandemic is sure to have played a part, but this is still a staggering statistic. Where is it coming from?
Causes And Signs Of Burnout
Burnout or a poor balance between work and your personal life could come from overbearing bosses, inflexible hours, long commutes or picking up workload due to incompetence or insufficient staffing. Whatever the reason, you can identify burnout through a variety of symptoms.
Constant pain from headaches or pain in the neck and shoulders are classic signs of an unhealthy work-life balance. They can be eased with massages and self-care, but they point to something much deeper. Persistent fatigue is another sign, as is short patience and a short attention span. You might find yourself glued to your phone, fixating on work messages or emails, while you struggle to think of the last time you really switched off.
Burnout is insidious, damaging your life both now and in the future. For example, sleep deprivation is a common symptom of poor work-life boundaries and is linked with cardiovascular disease or even strokes.
It’s helpful to check these symptoms to determine if you have an unhealthy work-life balance, as well as think about the last time you pursued a hobby or saw friends without thinking about work.
Cultivating A Better Work-Life Balance
A step back can be the way forward. By pausing and looking objectively at your stress levels, workload and emotional state, you can realise how overworked you might be. When you’ve recognised this, you can start taking action, embarking on a learning curve that will teach you to be satisfied with what you can realistically do. Relinquishing perfection, including downtime and learning to delegate all set you on the right path, while effective prioritisation will help you optimise your working hours. However, this won’t prove effective unless you learn to say no to the person making demands on your time. You don’t have to confront anybody, as this is a matter of setting boundaries, making it understood that you won’t look at emails or answer calls outside of your contracted hours.
Employers have nothing to lose and everything to gain from encouraging better work-life balance. Numerous articles have shown that it boosts productivity, reduces absences and cuts turnover. If you’re looking to improve the situation for your employees, you can get to the heart of the issue by addressing unclear or impossible requirements, poor communication, lack of support and various other factors. Many businesses are also pushing for better awareness of this balance as part of health and well-being initiatives.
Remember, this isn’t just about ticking boxes. This is about making space for the things you love and embracing the life that you want.
Finding A Life Coach
Sometimes you need somebody to help you to improve the complicated facets of your life. Dr Jan – some of his clients call him Dr. Joy – is an experienced life coach with years of medical training and he will help you to get back on track towards a happier, more fulfilling life.
The first step is to book your FREE discovery call. This 20-minute conversation is an obligation-free opportunity for you to meet each other and see if you click.