Work Life Balance
You might relate to constantly juggling work, home, family, and social responsibilities and, increasingly, elder care commitments. Sometimes it feels relentless, like there is no time to stop and catch your breath. There is no better time than the present to stop, breathe, and take time to reflect, if your life is in balance.
Balance is important
With anything in life, moderation, balance, and stability are crucial for a happy and healthy life. Without balance, you will increase the likelihood of burnout; you can probably relate to overdoing one area of your life and naturally wanting to bring yourself into equilibrium, perhaps you have spent a period of your life overworking, or looking after a sick relative.
It is natural to follow the ebb and flow of life, changing like the seasons, with periods of time when you feel open with lots of energy, and other times feeling closed off, wanting to hibernate. These are natural rhythms of life. However, if you feel out of balance, it may be because you are over extending yourself in one or more areas to a degree that is not sustainable.
Life balance is different for everyone
You are unique and will have wants and needs that are different from other individuals. It is important to assess your priorities in order to achieve balance. Perfection is unrealistic and you cannot expect yourself be perfectly balanced all the time, however, it is important to strive for what makes you happy and healthy.
Balance in each area of life
Work. Are you working too much or just enough? Do you have a ‘side-hustle’ or would you cut down on your hours to do other things?
Finances. Can you afford to cut down on work, or would it be easier to cut back on spending so you can live within your means or start saving for that new adventure, the course you’ve always wanted to take, or a new home?
Travel. Although there are world restrictions on travel now, do you want to spend parts of your year travelling? How can you work towards that?
Children. Do you want to spend more time with your children? What would that look like? Would you want to rebalance your time amongst family and personal hobbies?
Creativity. Do you feel you are spending enough time engaged with your creative endeavours in your free time, whether this is playing music, dancing, art, technology, etc. What would balance in this area look like?
Social. How can you keep a healthy social life with all your other commitments? Could you schedule in weekly calls or monthly socially distanced walks with loved ones?
Partner. Are you in a loving relationship? If not, would you like to change this? What steps could you take?
Relaxation. When was the last time you relaxed or had fun? If you are not taking time to enjoy your life, you could be at risk of burnout. What do you like to do to relax? How can you do this every day – even if it’s for 10 minutes!
These wants and needs will change as you grow through life – the balance you sought 10 years ago will be different from the balance you seek today.
Even if you can’t change many aspects of your life immediately, it can be helpful to understand where the right balance might lie, so that you can gradually plan to move towards it.
Challenges to balance
You may know where your life is out of balance, but feel unable to change it. In today’s busy environment, many of the following can challenge your life of balance:
- Increased workplace responsibilities
- Elder care commitments
- Child care or school problems
- Illness of self, children, or partner
- Financial or marital problems
- Trying to do everything
- Weak organisational skills
- Major changes such as childbirth, moving home, new job, separation, or bereavement
Signs of imbalance
Stress presents itself in many ways, but if you’re experiencing some of the following, it may be a cue that aspects of your life need to be brought back in line with your values. Signs of imbalance can include:
- You feel constantly anxious or stressed
- You feel discontent with work
- You feel tired all the time and/or have frequent colds
- Your sleeping or eating habits have changed
- You never seem able to arrive anywhere on time
- You can’t remember the last time you had lunch with a friend
- The word exercise isn’t in your dictionary
- You spend your time at work worrying about things left undone at home
- You spend your time at home worrying about things left undone at work
- Your alcohol use is increasing
- You wish you had a life
- You’re in conflict with yourself; what you want isn’t matching up to what you have
Bringing your life back into balance can take time and effort, but it’s work that will do wonders for your health and wellbeing for years to come.
If you feel it’s time to get back on the path toward balance, start by:
- Scheduling time to reflect on your life and the challenges you face
- Determining your priorities and personal needs
- Creating a list or plan of actions, both small and large, that you will act upon
- Asking for help from someone who inspires you
- Trying something new; nothing changes if nothing changes
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most enticing countries in the world for those looking to taste the experience of working overseas – it is little wonder that more than 80% of the UAE’s population is made up of expatriates. Initial feelings of excitement can be quickly overshadowed once when trying to find accommodation, make new friends, develop a personal network and manage family requirements sets in. When you throw into that mix a lack of social support, feelings of isolation and loneliness, a change in environment and the need to adjust to a different culture, it is understandable how expats require additional support and are impacted with stress, anxiety and depression.
According to latest studies from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people globally are now living with depression. In the UAE alone, approximately 20% of the population suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder, which can be more pronounced among expats.
Though the stresses of life and the pressures on your time can sometimes seem insurmountable, there are fewer endeavours more important than living your life well. By taking the time to reflect on the state of balance or imbalance in your life, you’re giving yourself the best gift you can—a chance to reduce stress and live life more fully.
This article on “Understanding Balance” was taken from the Lifeworks Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) library of resources available to all insured members with HanseMerkur health insurance plans. Please check it out to find other interesting and useful articles, pod casts and tips to help with your well-being or ask your local sales agent for more information about it.