Today, technology makes work accessible 24/7. While in some ways, this makes life so much easier, it’s a double-edged sword. In a recent Harvard Business School study, 94 percent of professionals reported that they worked more than 50 hours a week, and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours. Carve out time spent sleeping and that doesn’t leave very much “you” time to focus on your family and friends, your hobbies and personal interests, or your overall well-being.
Tips from the Experts
Physicians, psychologists and related experts concur that while everyone needs a certain amount of stress to spur them on and help them perform at their best, the key to managing stress lies in a single word: balance. The resulting benefits include greater focus and concentration, higher levels of job satisfaction, the opportunity to participate more fully in family and social life, more time to pursue goals and hobbies, and improved health.
While work/life balance means different things to different people, there are some common tips to help find it:
- Don’t confuse excellence with perfection. It’s true: Nobody is perfect. Strive for excellence instead. Avoid burnout by letting go of the notion that you can do everything right, every single time.
- As noted by Harvard Medical School psychology professor Robert Brooks, “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment.” Phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress into your system. By not reacting immediately, you develop a stronger habit of resilience. Resilient people feel more control over their lives, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.
- Aside from its physical benefits, regular exercise reduces stress, depression and anxiety, and enables you to better cope with adversity. It also boosts your immune system, keeping you out of the doctor’s office.
- Balance must include self-care so your mind, body and soul are all refreshed. Your body’s autonomic nervous system includes the sympathetic nervous system, which is its stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is its rest and digest response. The key is finding something that activates the parasympathetic system, such as deep breathing exercises or grounding your senses. With both exercise and meditation, you can start out slowly, practicing for a few minutes at a time during your commute or setting aside five-minute time blocks in the morning and evening.
- Set boundaries. Start by identifying what is most important in your life – according to your priorities, not someone else’s. Then, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these people and activities. For example, turn off your email notifications and reply in batches during set times each day. Find ways to diplomatically limit interactions with less constructive people – like politely excusing yourself from the office chatterbox. This may seem selfish, but the opposite is actually true. Experts use the airplane metaphor: when it comes to being a good friend, spouse, parent, partner or coworker, the better you are yourself, the better you’ll be in these areas, as well.
Are you looking for a new job?
When it comes to being a good employee, or a successful job seeker, the same stress management and work/life balance rules apply. For additional guidance as you strike this balance, partner with the expert team at TRC Professional Solutions. Your success is our mission. Contact us today to learn more or explore new jobs, here.