Work-life balance refers to how you manage your mental, emotional and physical resources and demands between work and other important aspects of your life. These resources might include time, effort, energy and the emotion you bring to the key areas of your life. An imbalance usually occurs when you devote more attention towards one area at the cost of others. When your attention is tipped excessively towards work, other aspects like your health, relationships, self-care, spirituality and personal growth might be neglected. These imbalances are not sustainable as they can lead to worsening of mental health, physical health and even burnout. Achieving a balance between work and your personal life does not mean there needs to be an even split of our time or effort. What that exact balance looks like can vary according to an individual and their own personal life demands, values and passions. That being said, having time for self-care is a necessity even though one’s own self-care needs can shift over time and circumstances. Thus, achieving harmony across work and life benefits from regular check-ins and having some flexibility when some aspects of your life require more attention at certain times. In our current world, it is not an easy task to achieve this balance at times. Many experience high expectations from work and family and it is not uncommon to struggle with feeling effective in the multiple life roles one occupies.
When there is an imbalance, you might feel more irritable, sad, anxious, unhappy, exhausted, numb or unwell. You might also feel fewer positive emotions and your motivation to do things you previously enjoyed can diminish. You might not be eating well or sleeping well. Restorative activities that usually offset your stress might be neglected. These can be early signs of mental burnout or deterioration. When these early signs are not attended to, the negative effects of imbalance can build and worsen. When this happens, one can experience more prolonged and severe emotional difficulties, which can lead to depression or significant anxiety.
Turn inwards and figure out what are your physical, social, family, home, mental, spiritual and community needs at the present time. Needs are generally what things are important for you to feel like your best self. Being able to articulate what these needs are is an essential part to figuring out what are the various demands on your time.
Take a close look at your needs and figure out which ones matter to you most. Some questions you might ask yourself are, what things do I need to do in order to be healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually? It can feel overwhelming when everything is identified as a priority. When you do not identify priorities, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and that leads to imbalance and burnout.
When life is fast-paced, it’s not uncommon that we lose awareness of where our energy and time goes. Taking a step back to take account of where your effort goes can be an important first step to realizing if you are having an work-life imbalance. Review the last week of your life and get an understanding of where you are spending your time and effort. Look back at your priorities and see where you need to change where you are focusing your attention.
We all have blindspots, especially when we are in the grind of work and life. Take some time to achieve stillness and calm so you can look at your life with fresh eyes and limiting your bias. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend if you are having a hard time gaining perspective or get the guidance of a therapist to help you through this process. Having some outside guidance can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed and burned out.
The first step is being aware that there is an imbalance, then it is important to realize that achieving a balance takes time and is not static. Keeping a balance requires ongoing attention and awareness.
At the Momenta Clinic, we help driven and passionate individuals achieve harmony across the various things in their life they hold dear. We help professionals, entrepreneurs, first responders, healthcare professionals, activists and many others manage anxiety, stress, low motivation and burnout. If this sounds like you and you want to know more about what we do, contact us with your questions or book an appointment with one of our talented clinicians!