Tania Hormozi, PsyD, LMFT
When we think of what work-life balance looks like, we think that we need to have a specific schedule for everything, but that’s not the case. There are 4 main things you have to keep in mind, to be successful in work-life balance:
- Reset Button (travel/mini getaway/coping skills/fun activities)
- A “clocking out” routine
- Good Activities of Daily Living:
If you think about these 4 areas in your life, and evaluate which areas are non-existent or need improvement, then you have your answer as to why you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and unsatisfied or unfulfilled in your daily life.
Boundaries, what are they? How do they affect us? How do they help us? We all need to have boundaries for ourselves, with ourselves, and definitely with other people. The dictionary definition of boundary is: a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. In reality, a boundary is the same, but not as tangible. It is a line that you set for yourself to divide your comfort level and sanity from what is stressful and uncomfortable. You have to have a boundary for yourself when your critical and hard-working inner self that is wants you to work on weekends; you need to have a boundary with others, when you find yourself “pleasing” others, before “pleasing” yourself in certain situations, and always putting others’ needs before yours.
If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we be expected to help others? (Jut like when you’re on an airplane and they tell you, “Always place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others”). Boundaries are number one in work-life balance, because it limits where your work stops, and where your life begins. It’s normal for hard workers to want to put in extra work, but if you aren’t getting paid for it, after your “shift” is completed, why stress about it?
When we think of what work-life balance looks like, we think that we need to have a specific schedule for everything, but that’s not the case.
Press the Reset Button
The next thing that is also a must-have is a Reset Button. We all remember the Staples commercials with the Easy button. Well, a reset button is needed to prevent the thing that’s most dangerous to us, burn out. Burn out is not stress, or exhaustion, it can be detrimental to our health, our life, and our mental state. To prevent such a dangerous phase, a reset button is required. The reset button for many consists of: travelling, taking a mini getaway, a coping skill of some sort, and/or a fun activity you enjoy doing.
A reset from a stressful day could be listening to your favorite song on repeat, a drive to the beach, or watching your favorite TV Show. A reset from something exhausting can be taking a power nap, getting a massage, or hanging out with friends. It is the little things that you do when you want to have fun. Yes, adults can have fun and be professional career-people as well. It’s called- work-life balance!
I always ask my clients when they first present to therapy, on day 1- what brings you into therapy? What do you like to do for fun? And for most, the latter question is so hard for them to answer. Just because we are not 9 years old anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and enjoy our hobbies. It’s actually more important now then it was when we were nine.
Learn How To “Clock Out”
This is something I identified that helped me personally in my previous job. A stressful work environment, as a salaried position, that I didn’t have to literally clock out from. I needed a routine to help my mental state leave work at work, and start life upon exiting the doors. I started to wash out my coffee mug or my lunch dishes at the end of the day. This ritual or routine helped me wash away all the stress with my dishes, and leave work stress at work, and exit to the world outside with a clear state of mind. A “clocking out routine” has helped me and a lot of my clients that I have suggested this to, to relieve some of the tension at work, regardless of how much we love and enjoy our jobs. It allows you to have a set boundary of when work ends, and life begins.
Just because we are not 9 years old anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and enjoy our hobbies. It’s actually more important now then it was when we were nine.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
We don’t often think about these things, because they are apart of our day-to-day lives. However, the amount of sleep you get, the food you eat, your intake of water, and spending mindful time on your hygiene, has a large impact on your mood, your self-esteem, your health, and overall well being.
So, yes; even though it may seem ridiculous to include this in the list, some of us forget that our ADLs can be therapeutic and good for our work-life balance. Research shows that 6-8 hours a night is typical for most adults, but that varies person-to-person, because of the type of work you do, how early you have to wake up, or how late you have to work in the night. So only you know what your number is, for being rested, alert, and focused. Whatever your number is, try your best to sleep at the same time each night, to wake up at the same time, and feel rested.
Your food and water intake is very important. If you have a high-carb diet then you might always feel tired, and not have enough energy, and the same goes for if you don’t have any protein in your diet, then you won’t have any fuel to burn off throughout the day. Whatever diet works for your health, your lifestyle, and you, try to be consistent with it. Lastly, your hygiene. Taking a shower daily is healthy, but being mindful about your shower, or washing your hands, and fixing your hair, is the part that is more therapeutic and allows you to utilize your day-to-day activities, such as your hygiene as a reset button to your exhausting lifestyle.
As mentioned above, these 4 areas are the most important areas that need to be addressed in order to have a work-life balance. If you need guidance to improving or creating these areas- talk to your therapist about it! If you feel as though you know these areas exist, but need more effort and motivation, then think about how many hours you put into work each week, you need to put at least half of that into work-life balance as well. If you are not balanced, then you are not putting your best foot forward at work, and being unfair to yourself and not enjoying your life to the fullest.
Remember, everyone’s work-life balance looks and feels different. It’s important to talk to your family and friends about their strategies, but identify your own, and stay consistent. Patience is important when developing these strategies, but the reward is feeling relaxed, enjoying your job, and doing what you love each day...Feeling Balanced!