By Danielle Nason
Sometimes, life these days seems to pass before you have a moment to catch on to the day itself. Life gets busy and we all have family, friends, and other relationships as well as trying to juggle a workload and all of our other responsibilities. Everything seems to be expensive that you may want to buy, and you need money to purchase items, so you work. The more hours you work, the more money you make. While this is technically true, you might make more money, but you could also suffer from the consequences of burnout and other serious health issues if you push yourself too hard.
94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey. Experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging to everyone. It can hurt relationships, health, and overall happiness.
“After considering what the average person does in a day, it is not surprising that more than one in four Americans describe themselves as super stressed. For a lot of people, the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance seems like an impossible goal,” said the May 2019 Lincoln County Health Department News (LCHD news).
Do you find yourself in a rush to get things done at home and in the office as well? The more we run around, the more we are likely to stress. When you get stressed out, your productivity plummets and you can wave your concentration goodbye as it leaves you. The more that you are stressed for long periods of time, the more likely you are to be depressed and irritable as well.
“Over time, stress also weakens our immune systems, and makes us susceptible to a variety of ailments from colds to backaches to heart disease. The newest research shows that chronic stress can actually double our risk of having a heart attack. That statistic alone is enough to raise your blood pressure,” said a Libby’s Lincoln County Health Department employee.
“Achieving a healthy work/life balance is an attainable goal. When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs,” according to MT.gov.
If you find that you are too overwhelmed, it may be time to take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life and minimize the time you spend on them. Sometimes it seems necessary to take time for just yourself and do something that brings you joy. A little relaxation goes a long way and can boost the way you feel, and the way that you perform.
According to Mental Health America, there are things that you can do at home and in the workplace to help relax a little and achieve better work/life balance. At home, unplug from electronics for a while, divide and conquer responsibilities, and don’t over commit. Remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes. Stay active too; regular activity can reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Treating your body right with diet, exercise and rest can reduce sick days, and make sure that you get help when you need it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, as many seem to think, taking care of yourself is a sign of strength.
According to Mental Health America, there are plenty of things that you can do at work to reduce your stress and anxiety and help achieve better work/ life balance. At work, set manageable goals each day, be efficient with your time, ask for flexibility if you need it, take five and remember that small breaks can help clear your head and improve your ability to deal with stress and make good decisions when you get back to work. It may even be a good idea to turn on some tunes. Studies dating back more than 30 years show that there are benefits to music in everyday life including lowered blood pressure. How is that for an excuse to listen to your favorite music?
Per WebMd, “Don’t assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance into your life.” Setting realistic goals like leaving the office earlier one night per week, will be achieved easier. Smaller goals are usually easier to accomplish and therefore completed more frequently.
Something that you can do at home to help relieve stress is as simple as turning off your phone when you walk in the door. If you turn your attention to things that you can control, you have the ability to make a positive change. Work in itself can be stressful, much less if there is anything going on within your office at the time such as people losing their job security. Many people put in extra hours while using their smartphones after business hours, even after they are home for the evening and not physically at work.
“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” said psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.
Fit Small Business did a ranking of all the states in the United States to see how they piled up against one another in the work/ life balance category. Montana as a state is ranked number nine, with the best city for work/ life balance being Missoula.
Finishing well in five categories, the Treasure State comes in number nine overall. Residents in Montana enjoy one of the shortest average working hours per week, at 32.8 hours, to rank third for that metric. In addition to that, commute time is the fourth lowest nationwide, with many residents of the state spending just 17.5 minutes to get to and from work. Lastly, quality of life in Montana is one of the best in the country, coming in eighth. Good work Montana, it seems we are headed in the right direction as a State.
At the end of the day, how you choose to handle your work/life balance is up to you. Remember that no one is perfect, and don’t expect to be. Choose to take a moment and improve yourself though, go ahead and be the best you that you can be. Each day try to take a little time for the things that seem to ignite your joy.