Feel like you are working too hard? Join the club!
The Harvard Business Review states that 94% of American professionals work over 50 hours per week. For many women, their job is just the beginning. If you have kids, you may spend two or more hours on activities before you even get home, where you have to cook dinner, do laundry and get the kids to bed before you can even sit down. According to a study published in The Guardian, Moms enjoy an average of just 10 minutes a day of uninterrupted leisure time. It’s no surprise that nearly half of American women report that their stress levels are high and getting higher. Then, add in the pandemic and women are working 72 hours a week before their real job kicks in, let alone the emotional labor.
We all feel the pressure to get everything done, but high levels of stress can ruin our concentration, make us irritable or depressed and make us less productive, in our personal and professional lives. Not only that, but stress can double your risk of serious health issues including heart attack and stroke. It’s easy to see the problem of stress, but even if we could eliminate all stress, we might not want to. While excess levels of stress are a problem, we need a certain amount of stress to push us to be our best. So, how can we have a healthy amount of pressure to excel without the problems that unhealthy stress can cause? One word: balance. Achieving a healthy work/life balance may seem like an impossible dream, but it is attainable if you build in a flexible mindset. When employees reach this goal, they are more productive, making work/life balance a goal that every business should have for their workers. Most of us want a healthy work/life balance, but we don’t know how to get it. Just as with many desirable goals, achieving our dreams starts with a healthy home life. Here are 8 expert tips to destress your home, work (which is likely at home right now) and life:
- Get Disconnected
Too many of us have our work phones with us at all times. While we justify this as an effective way to get work done during our downtime, dealing with work 24/7 is a near-certain recipe for burnout. Even more so with everyone working from home and routines thrown to the wind. If you want to have less stress at home, don’t invite the stress of your job home with you. Separate your work from home space. Have physical sacred space for work and a separate sacred space for play. Don’t have the space or money? Create a ritual of shutting off your computer and building in transition time between end of workday and home life before starting the evening.
- Get Friendly
Disconnecting from work is a crucial part of your long-term health. Making personal connections away from work is just as important. The benefits of having good friends go beyond emotional support. People who regularly connect with friends even have stronger immune systems than lonely people.
- Hit the Gym
You wouldn’t think of going into a meeting at work unprepared. Before you make a presentation, you prepare ahead with research and study. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to prepare your body for the stress you face every day.
- Get the Help You Need
If you’ve tried everything and still feel stressed and depressed, it may be time to consult with a mental health professional. Many people have minor chemical imbalances that can make it more difficult to deal with stress or change. Admitting that you need help isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and insight.
- Set Achievable Daily Goals
Too many of us make the mistake of setting unrealistic goals, both at home and at work. This just sets us up for failure. Rather than setting an overly ambitious goal such as reaching Inbox Zero, set a target like “I will deal with 25 e-mail messages.” Or, set aside processing time to do all your personal and work activities based on priority/impact. Every time you accomplish a small goal, you increase your sense of accomplishment and control which reduces your stress level.
- Avoid Procrastination
Each of us has the power to turn even a small job into an enormous challenge; all we have to do is keep putting it off. It’s always tempting to put off the parts of your job that you don’t enjoy, or don’t do well. Avoid the temptation to procrastinate by dividing large jobs into smaller tasks, then doing them. Every time you complete one of these smaller tasks, check it off of your list.
- Take a Break
Most employees are entitled to take breaks, but many of us don’t take advantage of them. Your break is a 15-minute opportunity to escape. Use it for anything you want, except work. Or, try the Pomodoro Method of 25 minutes of work then 5 minute break. After 3 or 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break.
- Rock On!
Listening to music helps many people concentrate and work more effectively. While blasting Metallica at work probably won’t work for most people, even some background music can help. If all else fails, put on a pair of headphones and listen as loud as you like.
While these strategies sound good on paper, most of us will not implement them. Why? Because we feel guilty every time we take time for ourselves. However, taking time to destress isn’t wasting time. Reducing stress makes us more productive. Therefore mentoring and coaching is essential.
In multiple studies, employees say again and again that they are stressed out at work. At many companies, the leaders are noting this and taking steps to improve the situation. Mentoring your employees when they need help is part of being an effective leader. Mentoring works because it helps people see and plan for the future they want. Mentoring helps people identify and overcome the obstacles that stand between them and their goals. Finally, mentoring gives people the feedback and accountability they need to move forward. Are you struggling to find a balance between your work life and your home life? While there are many proven strategies to help, many of us need a little extra motivation to make positive changes. Employers that recognize this are making mentoring a part of work.
If you need help finding a work/life balance that works for you, contact us today, and we’ll help you understand your options.