Guest Blogger, Julie Morris, shares her thoughts on work-life balance.
All work and no play makes for a dull life, and it’s not great for your stress levels either. However, when you’re career-driven, it’s hard to find balance between your professional aspirations and your personal life. If you focus too much on the “life” part of work-life balance, you won’t achieve your career goals. On the other hand, if you prioritize your job to the detriment of your personal wellness, it’s only a matter of time until you burn out.
Many of us worry that if we push for more work-life balance, we’ll lose the professional status we’ve worked so hard for. After all, why would a boss ever promote someone who says “no” over someone who’s totally dedicated to their work?
In truth, setting boundaries at work actually leads to more respect, not less. That’s because when you show respect for yourself and your personal needs, others will too. But if you bend over backwards to please others at your own expense, you’re giving colleagues the signal that your needs and input aren’t important.
If you’re tired of feeling overworked and unfulfilled and want to reclaim your work-life balance, here are three places you need to start.
Actually Use Your Lunch Break
Eating lunch at your desk may seem like a smart way to maximize productivity, but 30 minutes away from the office does more to boost your energy and focus than trying to eat a sandwich with one hand while typing with the other.
Instead of eating at your desk, use your lunch break to get some fresh air and think about something other than work. Whether you take a walk or head to lunch with a colleague, you’ll get a mental break from work and return feeling refreshed.
Take the Weekends Off
Does your phone buzz with phone calls and emails all weekend long? Unless you work in a field that requires you to be on-call, your boss shouldn’t expect a reply at 10 pm on Saturday night. It’s hard to establish this boundary once habits are ingrained, but it’s necessary for mental downtime. Mic explains how to gently push back against a boss that demands all your free time and how to avoid the same situation in your next job.
What will you do with all your newfound free time? Instead of spending the weekend anxiously checking your inbox, use it as an opportunity to get outdoors.
- Go hiking at local trails and take day trips to state parks. Whether you want a leisurely walk through the woods or a strenuous mountain hike, there’s a trail for you.
- Buy a boat and enjoy time on the water. Boats have a reputation for being expensive, but you find used boats for much less. Just be sure to get a comfortable seat so you don’t head into Monday morning with a sore back!
- Start a garden. When you want a quiet activity at home, try gardening. Gardening is great for mental health and the workout is nearly as good as a trip to the gym.
Do Work That Matters
Sometimes our jobs drain us not because of a demanding boss or a jam-packed schedule, but because we don’t find the work itself fulfilling. It’s not easy feeling like a cog in the machine when you’d rather be doing meaningful work, even if the paycheck is nice.
You shouldn’t quit your job today because you don’t love the work, but you should start planning a move to a career you’ll enjoy doing five days a week. If you feel driven to help others, consider a career in social work. Social workers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, and government agencies. Even without a bachelor’s degree in a related field, you can complete an online Master of Social Work degree program while holding onto your current job.
Sometimes, finding balance at work is as simple as setting your phone to silent on weekends or stepping away from the office for an hour. Other times, more drastic measures are needed. No matter which change you make, it’s important that you start making your needs a priority.
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