Juggling the demands of family, friends and career can sometimes feel absolutely overwhelming. But the worst part about losing your life's equilibrium is that everyone suffers: tensions flare at home, your work slips and suddenly, you find yourself completely burnt-out.
You're not alone.
Canadians walk a tightrope
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 58% of Canadians report overload due to the pressures of everyday life — work, home and family, friends, physical health and volunteering. Are you one of them?
Some of the signs of work-life imbalance include:
- You feel overwhelmed, as if you've lost control of your life
- Persistent feelings of guilt that you're neglecting important areas of your life
- A lack of focus and inability to concentrate
- Chronic exhaustion and unusual irritability
One important thing to recognize is that there is something you can do to inject some relief and start to reclaim work-life balance.
Let's start with what not to do. Do any of these tactics sound familiar?
- Trying to work harder to get it all done
- Reducing your quality time spent outside of work
- Sleeping less to do more
If you answered "yes", then you may be causing more harm than good. Instead, try these sure-fire tips:
- Act on basic advice. Be proactive by doing what you already know you should be doing, so eat right, exercise and get enough sleep to help you feel more energized.
- Break the all-out work habit. Taking breaks throughout the day — even 10 minutes every two hours will increase your productivity and you'll get more accomplished. Try The 3-minute work-desk stretch, a deep breathing exercise or a fun brain exercise to recharge during a break.
- Take a real break. Don't miss or cut a vacation from work short. Getting away — even for a short period of time — allows you to recharge and come back refreshed and more productive.
- Set realistic daily work goals. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish and at the end of each day, set your priorities for tomorrow.
- Learn to say "no". Decline on doing things out of guilt or out of a false sense of obligation. That includes at work (for example, when a co-worker asks you for help but you don't have time to spare).
- Set your boundaries. Treat work and home like two separate entities — which they are — so give yourself personal time. When you're at home, take a "no work allowed" mentality and turn off all electronic communications (yes, even your Blackberry or iPhone).
- Look into options. Check with your employer or human resources department if any services are available to help you achieve a better balance. Employee assistance programs, flexible hours, tele-commuting or a compressed workweek could be of big help.
Another thing to remember is that stress is very real. Take time to deal with your stress in constructive ways, like performing this 5-minute stress-busting exercise.