Most people are stressed out. Work-related stress is so common, in fact, that it feels to many life an inevitability. It doesn’t have to be that way. With the right stress management strategy, you can find more meaning in your work, and make better use of your free time.
In this article, we take a look at how to manage your stress levels and improve your work/life balance in the process.
Isn’t work supposed to be stressful?
For many people, work is reflexively put in the category of obligation. Something they don’t want to do, but must until they can figure out how to master photosynthesis. There is a degree of truth to this. The majority of people need to work to pay the bills, accounting for the obligatory nature of holding down a job. Does that mean it also has to be stressful?
With the right work/life balance and stress management routine, work can become a part of your life that you enjoy.
Making the Time
For most people, the issue is time. I barely get the chance to eat sitting down. How can I make time for a work-life balance?
The average workweek is 34 hours. Another 56 hours go to sleep. That leaves you with 78 hours of free time during the average week. Some of that time goes to commuting and chores. Nevertheless, most people will have some time left to work with. Where is it all going?
Mostly, screens. The average adult spends up to five hours on their smartphone every day, not including time spent on work-related tasks. Screens certainly can have their place in unwinding. However, if you are trying to find more time in the day, taking a hard look at your technology use might be a good first step.
When It’s Over, It’s Over
Many people are their own worst enemy when it comes to establishing work/life balance. Smartphones make it so easy to check your email periodically. Try to establish the habit of only looking at work-related materials during the designated hours.
If you work from home, you might also consider avoiding the space designated for your job. If you can stay out of the home office at night, it will help you forget your obligations and focus more on the things that bring you joy.
Vacations are about more than just unwinding for a week. Studies have shown that planning trips is its own pleasure. People feel more optimistic when they have something to look forward to. Trips don’t have to be elaborate or overly expensive to provide you with joy.
Is there a long weekend coming up? Consider taking a drive down to that small town you heard about a few hours away. The one with the good burgers and the beautifully quaint shopping district. Maybe you have a lot of vacation days banked. Go on a camping trip, or rent a nice house for a couple of days on Airbnb.
From a purely relaxation perspective, many small trips may hold more of a benefit to your mood than one big one every few years.
Develop a Hobby
Many people spend a significant amount of their free time shaking off their workday. They reach for relatively low-impact solutions. Social media. Streaming Netflix. While these activities can have their place, they don’t actively provide most people with happiness.
Hobbies, on the other hand, are stimulating. People who actively pursue their hobbies are statistically shown to be happier than those who do not. The key, of course, is to pick something that you are passionate about. Hiking, fishing, bird watching, tennis, golf.
The specifics of the hobby are less important than having one. Hobbies that require you to be physically active may have additional benefits, but if you are excited about something it’s worthwhile to make time for it in your routine no matter what it is.
Prioritize Friends and Family
It’s pretty simple: friends and family make people happy. Not seeing them makes people sad. Intense work hours can serve as a significant barrier to maintaining relationships. Not only is it logistically difficult to coordinate get-togethers around busy schedules, but when you do have opportunities, you’re often too tired to pursue them.
Make the time anyway.
Studies show that people with strong personal relationships are happier and less stressed out than those without them.
Exercise provides you with more energy. Regular exercise is also good for your overall health. You want to be able to enjoy your retirement, right? Regular exercise and a healthy diet will help ensure that you are healthy enough to make the most of your golden years.
Sleep is Important
We need to take more time for the things we like and sleep more? Yes. It may sound impractical. It may even be impractical some of the time. However, getting the proper amount of sleep is critical for both your mental and physical health.
Doctors recommend between 7-8 hours a night for most adults. If your numbers are below this, you should make more sleep your first priority. Once you have that down, you can look for other ways to improve your work/life balance.
Balance is the Key Word
If you are like most people, you spend a significant amount of your waking hours at work, and you will continue to do so until you are in your mid-sixties. Are you really ok with spending the next forty years unhappy for most of the time you are conscious?
Striking a good work/life balance does more than just add joy to your free time. When done properly it can also improve the way you feel at your job. It’s all about striking the right balance. When you like what you are doing professionally, and you have the proper infrastructure for relaxation at home, working can be pleasant.