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The Importance of Work-Life Balance for Mental Health

If you’re finding it difficult to balance the different elements of your life, and increasingly not finding enough time for yourself, you’re not alone. Employees in India have among the longest work weeks across the world. What’s more, some of us even take our work home. Technology might have made us omnipresent and accessible, but it has also meant that boundaries between work and leisure are gradually blurring.

A lot of people report overload associated with their many roles associated with the new societal and family dynamics in India – work, home and family, friends, physical health, and community service.

A balanced life includes time for family, friends, work, exercise, leisure and adequate sleep. While a moderate amount of stress improves our efficiency and our mental sharpness. Learning how to recognize, handle and reduce stress is key to fine-tuning our balance.

Clearly there is a greater need of work-life balance in our lives. So let’s start by looking at the signs.

Signs of an unhealthy work-life balance

  • You feel like you’ve lost control of your life
  • You often feel guilty about neglecting your different roles
  • You frequently find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand
  • You’re always tired
  • You have a messy desk
  • You feel like you’ve lost control of your life
  • You often feel guilty about neglecting your different roles
  • You frequently find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand
  • You’re always tired
  • You have a messy desk

Tips for Staying in Balance

At Work

A survey by Desjardins Financial Security showed that money is the main cause of stress outside work and has a direct impact on work-life balance. Nearly half of respondents cited financial issues as their top stressor. In this regard, it’s worthwhile to take stock and re-examine your needs, wants and goals. Look at downsizing, cutting back and possibly negotiating lesser hours or a flexible working arrangement with your company.

If you don’t have time to explore your hobbies and interests outside work, you could try exploring them within the office context. Start a club, explore the extracurricular opportunities your company has to offer. Join or start a cricket enthusiasts club, a book reading club, a toastmasters group, look out for gym and other activity partners and more.

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day. Do a few neck exercises, take your eyes off the computer screen, walk and get yourself a drink of water, take coffee breaks away from your desk.
  • Make it a practice to be on time and start the day with a job list by priority. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available.
  • Schedule email time. Shut off your email program to avoid being distracted as messages come in.
  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Protect your private time by turning off electronic communications. Resist the urge to respond to that email prompt once you’ve got home, or in the restaurant with your friend.

At Work

  • Create a buffer between work and home. At home take a brief walk alone or with a loved one, listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine, and do set aside time for gadget-free, one-on-one quality time with your loved ones.
  • Schedule time for household chores. Don’t leave everything for the weekend. If you have kids or a spouse, get them involved.
  • Talk to someone about your day and hear about theirs.
  • Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
  • Create and implement a household budget. Start by setting aside some money from each pay cheque for the future.

In Your Community

  • Community projects are great, but try not to over subscribe. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say “no” to the rest.

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