By: Linda Young, PhD and Melvina MacDonald, MS, KMHC, CEAP
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Many of us feel overwhelmed as we attempt to juggle work, family, hobbies and other commitments. When you add in holiday commitments, such as shopping, decorating, and events, that feeling of being overwhelmed can become even stronger. When our commitments result in symptoms of stress and even burnout, it could be a sign that life is out of balance. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you find yourself working long hours with on-the-go eating and limited exercise?
- Is your schedule packed with limited flexibility for social or personal activities?
- Do you find it difficult to fall or stay asleep?
- Do you find yourself irritable with limited patience?
If you identify with these signals there are ways to instill balance in your life.
Keys to successful work-life balance:
- Create priorities for your time. Take a step back and look at how you spend your time and energy. Rank each activity to create a list of priorities. Be proactive with your scheduling. Build in downtime.
- Re-evaluate the balance. Work-life balance is a moving target and it needs to be reevaluated from time to time to meet the changes in goals and responsibilities. For the holiday season, your goals may include shopping for presents and attending holiday parties, but once January comes, those priorities will change.
- Set realistic goals. Creating goals can lead to satisfaction when they are reached, but unrealistic goals can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you make goals that you can accomplish and have a contingency plan when something unexpected prevents you from reaching a goal.
- Manage distractions and procrastination. Establishing priorities and staying on task ensures free time is enjoyed and doesn’t slip away to empty activities.
- Develop positive self-care habits. Remember to take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise and schedule regular medical and dental checkups. Take time to mentally relax, listen to music, read for pleasure and practice deep breathing to enhance your well-being.
- Avoid justifying imbalance. Your family may understand that your job is important and should take priority. However, use this rationale cautiously in order to avoid it becoming a habit.
With a life in balance, you will have the time and energy for your priorities. Remember to re-evaluate your time and responsibilities, especially during the holiday season so you have enough time to spend with family and friends without feeling overwhelmed. If implementing these techniques proves to be challenging, consider speaking with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) professional. EAP is offered by many employers and is designed to help employees address personal concerns that may impact job performance, such as work-life balance.