5 Steps closer to a Better Life
A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to us all. It’s not so much about splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure but making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life. work-life balance
Despite the resounding evidence that working long hours can be harmful to both employees and employers, many professionals still struggle to overcome their assumptions — and their deeply-ingrained habits — around work hours. What does it take to free ourselves from these unhealthy patterns and reach a more sustainable, rewarding work-life balance?
How to make the Change?
It’s not always possible to make changes at work: if you’re on a zero hours contract you might not feel comfortable speaking up, for instance, or you might need to work long hours to earn enough money to pay your bills. But for those who can make changes, recent research suggests regularly checking your work-life balance and work-health by following five steps.
1. Pause and denormalize.
Take a step back and ask yourself: What is currently causing me stress, imbalance, or dissatisfaction? How are these circumstances affecting how I perform and engage with my job? How are they impacting my personal life? What am I prioritizing? What am I sacrificing? What is getting lost? Only after you take a mental pause and acknowledge these factors can you begin to tackle them!
2. Pay attention to your emotions.
Once you’ve increased your awareness of your current situation, examine how that situation makes you feel. Ask yourself, do I feel energized, fulfilled, satisfied? Or do I feel angry, resentful, sad?
A rational understanding of the decisions and priorities driving your life is important, but equally important is emotional reflexivity — that is, the capacity to recognize how a situation is making you feel. Awareness of your emotional state is essential in order to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.
Increasing your cognitive and emotional awareness gives you the tools you need to put things into perspective and determine how your priorities need to be adjusted. Ask yourself: What am I willing to sacrifice, and for how long? If I have been prioritizing work over family, for example, why do I feel that it is important to prioritize my life in this way? Is it really necessary? Is it really inevitable? What regrets do I already have, and what will I regret if I continue along my current path?
Our priorities often shift faster than our day-to-day time allocation habits!
4. Consider your alternatives.
Before jumping to solutions, first reflect on the aspects of your work and life that could be different in order to better align with your priorities. Are there components of your job that you would like to see changed? How much time would you like to spend with your family, or on hobbies?
5. Implement changes.
Finally, once you’ve recognized your priorities and carefully considered the options that could help you improve, it’s time to take action. That can mean a “public” change — something that explicitly shifts your colleagues’ expectations, such as taking on a new role that’s designed to be less time-demanding or allows for a compressed-week model — or a “private” change, in which you informally change your work patterns, without necessarily attempting to change your colleagues’ expectations.
“the five steps outlined above are not a one-time activity, but rather a cycle of continuous re-evaluation and improvement.”
The guide from Mental Health Foundation can help you manage and reduce stress. It looks at how stress impacts our life and how to deal with it, and includes 101 of our supporters’ tips on how to reduce stress.
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