It is not surprising that 58% of Canadians are affected by the pressures of balancing demands such as work, home and other responsibilities, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. But how do we know when it’s too much?
For some of us the consequences of trying to do too much manifests itself through fatigue or lack of concentration, for others it may be isolation from loved ones or missing important events due to a busy work schedule, resulting in guilt or even a sense of losing control. And an increase in demands at work can lead to even greater expectations of your time and responsibilities, tipping the scales even further away from the balance we all crave.
Balancing your work with family life is long-term, but the stress doesn’t have to be. The following are some tips for achieving better balance:
Savour your breaks. Taking well-needed breaks at work or home, results in greater productivity.
Plan. Organize priorities versus general tasks – including set times for emails – and what can be delegated to allow more room for things you enjoy.
Consider your schedule options. Do you have the flexibility to create a work schedule that might work better for you, such as a compressed work-week, working longer hours and/or less days?
Know your limits. Taking on more responsibilities than you can handle will add to your stress. It’s ok to respectfully decline, in order to remain productive with the tasks you already have.
Take a little “me” time between work and home. Enjoy a walk to rejuvenate or a tea for a little down time – something that gives you a break before getting into your routine at home.
What happens at work stays there. Create a boundary between work and home life. Commit to your personal time, including breaks from the cell phone.
Spread out your demands at home. Rather than leaving all of your responsibilities at home for your day off, spread it out throughout the week, so you actually get some time off.
Work with your support systems. A team effort at work means you have each other’s back when you need a hand. And with everyone pitching in at home means that one person isn’t carrying the burden of having to do everything.
Change your attitude. According to research, your perception determines whether a situation is stressful or not – making it better or worse. For instance, if you see value in your daily work or life responsibilities, the stressors that go with them may motivate you to improve situations, versus resent them, therefore, reducing the stress.
Take care. Optimize your energy so you can meet your demands. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and staying active contribute to physical balance and a sense of overall well being.Part of taking care is also seeking someone to talk to if needed – personally or professionally.
Play. Engaging your body and mind in a fun activity is a great way to get you away from daily demands, get your mind off stressors and give your body a chance to restore itself. Be it a structured sport or class, social activity or quiet walk alone, it’s an essential part of survival – a necessary part of physical and mental health, according to researcher Cale Magnuson of the University of Illinois. He indicates, “Play is what lifts people out of the mundane. I sometimes compare play to oxygen – it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.”
Revisit your needs. As demands come and go, so does our stress – for better or worse. Adjust your life to maintain balance as your need arises.
Cheryl Patterson has a B.A. in Psychology and has researched the area of stress for over ten years. For more on Cheryl visit www.cherylpatterson.ca.