Introduction: The Top Work Life Balance Tips for a Healthy and Balanced Lifestyle
You know the temptation. As soon as the alarm clock sounds early in the morning, our first tendency is to turn toward some sort of screen, whether it be a phone or computer, to check how many messages have accumulated overnight.
And then, at 5 or 6 pm, instead of heading home to be with the family, we stick around the office for just a little longer to “catch up” on the endless work that is always waiting for us. Finding a work and life balance is never easy in our hyperactive society.
Many of us may feel pressured to put in the extra hours at work in order to start climbing the corporate ladder. Others of us might find that a work-family balance is simply impossible if we want to get the bills paid each month. Either way, a balanced lifestyle is something that few Americans can say that they truly enjoy.
In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will look at the importance of work-life balance and offer a few work-life balance tips. We will begin by giving a simple work-life balance definition before turning our attention to why you should be concerned about developing a healthy work-life balance.
Since thousands of people suffer from chronic stress and anxiety, we will also look at some of the health benefits of developing a life-work balance. We will also examine how consciously striving for a work and life balance can help to improve your marriage and/or your relationship with your children.
Finally, we offer some clues about how balancing work and family can be possible, even for the busiest person out there.
A Simple Work-Life Balance Definition
Believe it or not, even the Cambridge English dictionary offers a work-life balance definition. The fact that one of the most prestigious dictionaries in the English language offers a work-life balance definition proves that even though life is about balance, our society has become so fixated on work and efficiency in the workplace that we are far from achieving a healthy life-work balance.
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According to the Cambridge dictionary, life-work balance is “the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.”
While some people may be able to sincerely say that their work is their enjoyment, the majority of us spend long hours every day at a job that isn’t necessarily fulfilling or enjoyable. Most of us work simply to keep the bills paid and food on the table. If this is a fairly accurate description of how you approach your work life, you need to understand the importance of work-life balance.
What is somewhat ironic is that balancing work and life seems like it should be an almost natural and automatic decision. If you ask someone whether they feel happier sitting behind a desk at work or going for a picnic with their family, almost everyone will choose the latter option.
Among the benefits of work-life balance that we will explore below, the most obvious benefit is that by spending more time doing things you enjoy, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Why then, is it so difficult to achieve a healthy work-family balance in one’s life?
Why Should You Be Concerned About Work-Life Balance?
One thing should be clear to all of us: our work will never be done or “caught up.” We live in a society and economy that is always pushing for more growth. Thus, the opportunities to dedicate more and more time to the work we do is always before us.
Balancing work and family, then, can only happen if we let go of the rather naive notion that “once we get caught up” with the load of papers on our desk or the unread and unresponded emails in our inbox, then we will achieve a better work and life balance.
One of the most common phrases we hear from elderly people is this: “Life goes by so fast.” While we might simply nod at that phrase and chalk it up to some sort of nostalgic longing that all elderly people feel, the truth behind that phrase is harsh. We only life once on this earth, and if we never make an effort to live a balanced lifestyle, chances are that we could spend more of our precious time on earth working instead of living.
Balancing work and family, then, isn’t only something we should do for our own mental health; rather, a work-family balance should be a fundamental part of how we design our livelihoods to better appreciate the life we have.
The Importance of Work Life Balance
A recent ABC News article found that “Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, and way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.”
While an extra hour or two of work each day might not sound like much, it adds up. Those extra hours on a daily basis might add up to close to a month of extra work! Achieving a work-life balance is hardly possible if you are putting in an extra month each year of work.
The arrival of technology has even further hindered our ability to live a balanced lifestyle. Whereas our parents’ generations were largely unable to get any work done outside the office, today, we can take our work with us virtually anywhere with the help of email, smartphones, banking apps, and the like.
We might leave the office to take our son or daughter to their most recent sporting event, but instead of truly being engaged in the game and supporting them, we might have our faces buried in our phones. Even during a family night out at a restaurant, it is all too common to find people stuck in their phones instead of being present with their families.
Balancing work and life is even harder in today’s hyperactive technological society. The importance of work-life balance is even more evident when our jobs follow us in our pockets and purses wherever we go.
The actual amount of time we dedicate to the work we do is most likely underestimated because so many of us carry our work with us. One of the most important work-life balance tips, then, is to learn when it is necessary to turn off the phone or even leave it at home so that you can avoid the temptation to quickly catch up on some pending piece of work.
The Health Benefits of Work-Life Balance
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.” One of the main factors leading to this increase in anxiety disorders is a lack of proper life-work balance.
Life is about balance, and one of the main benefits of work life balance is related to our own mental health. When we make a determined decision to spend less time on our work and more time doing things we enjoy, our stress levels go down.
Furthermore, balancing work and family doesn’t mean that we simply try to be present to our family once we get off work but then sacrifice our sleep late at night to catch up on work. The importance of work-life balance is also pertinent to one’s sleep patterns. If you are sacrificing sleep in order to stay ahead at your job or work toward that promotion, you are inviting a whole host of health problems into your life.
Why Balancing Work and Family Is Important for Your Children and Marriage
The importance of work-life balance is also evident when it comes to the relationships we have with our children, spouses, and other important friends and family members. Simply put, balancing work and family leads to stronger relationships with those we most care about.
Children whose fathers or mothers don’t develop a life-work balance often suffer in school and other social settings. When parents don’t accept certain work-life balance tips, their children are also prone to self-esteem issues and other mental health problems.
Balancing work and family, then, isn’t only for one’s own mental health and happiness; it also directly affects the health and happiness of your immediate family.
The importance of work-life balance is also pertinent to sentimental relationships.
According to one report, “when husbands work 50 hours per week or more, their wives are more likely to quit their own jobs, especially if the couple has children and the wife is in a managerial or professional job. But the opposite isn’t true — wives’ long hours aren’t linked to husbands quitting their jobs.”
Achieving a better life work balance should allow both parents to dedicate time to both their professional pursuits and the care of their children. Balancing work and life, then, might mean that instead of one parent working 50 or 60 hours while the other stays at home, both parents take on part-time jobs of 20-30 hours a week, or one works full-time so benefits kick in and the other works part-time.
The family agreements that allow for balancing work and family will depend on the particular financial situations of each and every individual. Money still needs to be made, but finding a life-work balance that allows you to do the things you love, your spouse to also dedicate time to what he or she loves, and both of you to spend quality time with your children should be the end goal.
Some Simple Steps Toward Balancing Work and Life
There is no “recipe” for balancing work and family. The context and situation of each person will largely determine how much time he or she is able to spend away from work and closer to family, friends, and activities that are enjoyable and fulfilling. However, the first step to achieving a work-life balance is to convince yourself of the importance of work-life balance.
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Once you have committed yourself to the importance of work-life balance, there are a number of strategies that can help you achieve a better and more wholesome life-work balance. Below, you will find a number of work-life balance tips to help you live a healthier and happier lifestyle.
- Take time to unplug: As we mentioned above, technology has allowed us to take our work with us wherever we go. One of the best work-life balance tips is to simply unplug from technology. Leave your laptop at the office and when you go out with family, make an effort to leave your cellphone at home.
- Don’t be a perfectionist: To achieve a healthy work-family balance, we also need to understand that the work we do will never be completely perfect. Sure, we could spend a few more hours polishing up a report or cleaning up the office, but life is about balance, and a few untidy bits here and there shouldn’t take us away from needed time with our families.
- Take time to exercise: Exercising is one of the best ways to help us toward a healthy life-work balance. Self-care is one of the most important work-life balance tips. If we can’t make time each day to take care of ourselves, then we won’t be able to make time for others in our family.
- Try to meditate: Meditation, far from being tied to any particular religious group or belief, is a proven way to help us concentrate, relax, and focus our energies. Balancing work and family starts with finding ways to gain the clarity needed to be more efficient in the work we do so that we can spend more time away from work.
Conclusion – Life Is About Balance, and a Healthy Life-Work Balance Can Lead to a Happier Existence
Finding ways to create a work and life balance is not only about one’s own mental and physical health. Rather, the benefits of work-life balance extend to our families and others around us. By finding ways to lead a more balanced lifestyle, our own happiness will reflect on others as well.
In this article, we have shared a number of work-life balance tips. However, each person will find their own path toward a more balanced lifestyle that brings greater fulfillment and enjoyment to their lives.
Balancing work and life should be a goal for everyone. When we ignore this goal, it is all too easy to have our lives and livelihoods get sucked into the never-ending cycle of longer work hours. Balancing work and family is never easy to do, but it is perhaps one of the most rewarding things we can strive for.
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