Work-life balance is characterized by the amount of time spent on a job or career versus the amount of time spent with family, friends, and leisure pursuits. The concept is evolving as society has rejected the idea that these two categories must be adversarial. Instead, the term work-life integration is gaining acceptance. Experts agree that all aspects of a person’s life should be considered valuable and desirable when measured in moderation.
Applying this perspective, individuals can stop feeling guilty about spending time at work versus home (or vice versa). Instead, they integrate and balance all essential aspects of their life in the best way for them. Of course, work and career typically represent the category that consumes the bulk of someone’s time – so how can someone regain some of their own personal time to relax and have a little more fun with family and friends?
Here are seven of our favorite suggestions:
- Turn off the Screens: Because of mobile devices, we are “at work” even sitting at home – an even greater reality for those who are remote employees. Checking and responding to emails from the phone can easily rob time spent with kids at the park or disrupt time with a spouse or friends at dinner. All those lights and stimuli also trigger the brain to work harder and prevent relaxation or rest – so turn off the screens for a few hours each day, and relax with your loved ones.
- Just Say No: Somewhere along the line, over-commitment became a virtue, but it is detrimental to any semblance of a work-life balance. Learning to say “no” once in a while is incredibly freeing and allows you to regain control over your free time. Say yes only when the request represents an activity that is essential, valuable, or brings you joy.
- Be Diligent About Your Health: Maintaining a vibrant quality of life is difficult when you feel sick, exhausted, or in pain. Your body will tell you when your work-life integration is out of balance. Maximum productivity and happiness result from adequate sleep, healthy eating, and prioritizing physical activity. It all starts with getting enough rest – without sleep, you will feel tired, experience brain fog, and feel your motivation drop.
- Reduce Toxic Influence: It really is true – people who engage in toxic behaviors can steal your joy, distract you, negatively impact your productivity, and cause you to lie awake at night. While it is impossible to avoid whiners, complainers, and narcissists all the time, working to reduce the amount of time spent around them will boost your overall mood. How does this affect work-life balance? You can prevent taking the bad mood from work home to your kids.
- Spend Time Alone: These days, scheduling time alone is nearly inconceivable. With your day carved up between career and family – with a few moments with friends thrown in – there isn’t a lot of time for a leisurely walk through the woods. However, that walk may be essential for a healthy balance in your life. Time alone reduces stress, boosts well-being, and inspires creativity. Incorporating meditation or prayer can also help to achieve balance and moments of serenity.
- But Don’t Neglect Relationships: Conversely, fulfilling social and relational needs is critical for a healthy life. Turn off the devices and genuinely engage with your partner, spouse, or kids. Connect and be present for those you care about.
- Reward Yourself: Self-care is essential for a work-life balance and encompasses various possible treats to splurge on. Self-care may look like a glass of wine on the deck, thirty minutes in the gym, or a weekly manicure and pedicure. The most vital part of self-care is the commitment behind it, as these activities are typically the first to go when someone gets busy. Dedicate this time and make it non-negotiable; your life will feel much more balanced.
If you are struggling to find peace, relieve anxiety, or establish work-life balance, call Denise Schonwald. As a mental health professional, Denise specializes in wellness coaching and provides practical workshops designed to help you transform and regain your quality of life.