Just about everybody goes through stressful times at work. Projects pile up, you stay late and have to work evenings and weekends — but the flow of emails and messages doesn’t slow down.
When this busy schedule becomes the norm, it’s time to re-evaluate your work-life balance — and make some healthy changes to avoid job burnout.
How do you know when it’s time to examine how your job fits into your life?
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance looks different for everybody — and, of course, you want to give 100% effort to your job.
However, in a nutshell, work-life balance means you aren’t spending 100% of your nonsleeping time either at work or thinking about work.
You take time to do things you enjoy, whether that’s traveling, cultivating a hobby, or spending time with friends and family.
You also carve out time for yourself, to take care of your health or simply relax and decompress.
“To many, our work is more than just work,” says psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyD. “It is an embedded part of our values. We are proud of our work.”
“However, if work crosses the line between something that brings us great value and joy to something that brings about great stress that begins to harm our health or relationships, we need to seriously evaluate what is causing this stress and how to manage this stress,” she adds. “Besides an emergent situation such as saving someone’s life, nothing should come before your own health or relationships.”
The importance of work-life balance
Although hard work is prized in our culture, you don’t have to let your job take over your life. It’s OK (and necessary) to take care of yourself first.
Too much stress can have a negative impact on your health. You can develop high blood pressure, which itself can lead to heart conditions, or muscle aches and pains. You also might be more prone to getting sick, as stress can have a negative impact on your immune system.
A recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization even found that working more than 55 hours a week raises your risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke, when compared to people who worked 35-40 hours weekly.
When your work-life balance gets misaligned, you also might experience burnout, a condition where you’re so exhausted that even easy tasks feel overwhelming.
Plus, taking a break every once in a while actually makes you a better employee. You can bring fresh perspective to the table, both in your own work and to your team.
Signs your work-life balance needs a reset
Technology has made our jobs easier. However, with the rise in remote work, it’s also made it more difficult to disconnect, sending our work-life balance out of whack. Here are some signs you’re in need of a work-life balance reset.
You stop taking care of your body
You’re staying up too late or having trouble staying asleep. You’re sitting all day and not exercising. You’re getting most of your food from a vending machine or drive-thru window — or not eating at all. You have a nagging pain or health concern but don’t feel like you have time to go to the doctor.
Your mental health is going downhill
You’ve started noticing signs of anxiety or depression. Are you feeling angry or irritable? You may even experience dread, restlessness, hopelessness, panic attacks, mood swings, and maybe even thoughts of suicide.
You just don’t care anymore
Your work no longer feels meaningful. You don’t feel connected to your colleagues or clients. You’re just going through the motions. You simply don’t care about your job...