People do not have just one role in life, they have many. For example, someone may be a parent, a business person, a spouse, a friend, and a caregiver. The dynamics and responsibilities differ for each role, which, at times, causes conflict. Balancing work and personal life can prove to be one of the most difficult challenges we face. There are such high expectations for us in both our personal lives and professional lives that it can be difficult at times to set healthy boundaries, however, setting these boundaries will help us to be happier in both areas.
Statistics show that the United States ranks 30th amongst countries with the best work-life balance. A large portion of the working population end up working overtime regularly, causing further strain in their personal lives. Over the years, the work environment has changed, leading to people having a more difficult time keeping work separate from their personal lives. Deadlines have become tighter, technology has increased work pressure and access to the employee while outside of work, and the expected response times for communication have decreased.
The inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance can lead to dissatisfaction in both areas. People may experience increased fatigue, which can lead to decreased productivity. Additional consequences of poor work-life balance include poor health, increased substance use, lost time with family and friends, burnout, and strained relationships.
The benefits of maintaining a healthy work-life balance are numerous. People who have a good work-life balance tend to be happier and healthier. They are less likely to use work time to take care of personal matters and less likely to use time outside of work hours to manage work tasks. People are more likely to take better care of themselves by getting regular preventative medical care, eating healthier meals, and spending time participating in physical activities. Those with healthy work-life boundaries report higher job satisfaction and productivity. People are also able to build stronger and healthier relationships when their work is not being brought home and interrupting personal time. A healthy work-life balance leads to healthier mental and physical health.
Maintaining the work-life balance is not a one and done task; it is a life-long process that takes continuous effort. We must have awareness of each of our roles and the responsibilities associated with each one at all times. It is through this awareness that we are able to evaluate if we are maintaining a healthy balance. Here are several tips on how to develop healthy boundaries between your work life and personal life:
- Set limits
- Do not overcommit
- Do not be afraid to say “no”
- Participate in hobbies
- Understand that there is no perfect balance
- Care for yourself
- Create schedules
- Keep work out of the home
- Nurture your relationships
- Develop a support system
- Seek professional help if needed