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A Healthy Work and Home-Life Balance

It is estimated that about a third of UK employees are unhappy in their work. Work stress is known to put people at serious risk of anxiety and depression and to have a detrimental effect on relationships. Mental health organisations are concerned about the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture. In the US as well as in the UK people are finding it more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of work life and home life. Many people are working additional hours on demand and using their smartphones to be on call when not physically at work. In recent years employers have been cutting down on staff due to a dwindling global economy and so putting increasing pressure on existing employees. People are concerned about losing their jobs if they resist the pressure.

Good News – The broad picture looks gloomy but the good news is that as individuals we can take steps to help ourselves. Here are some suggestions:

Plan time out by clearly blocking off leisure time in your diary so that you can spend with your friends and family and make space just for yourself; do this on a regular basis, in advance and resist any pressure to change it. Resolve that during these times your phone will be off or on silent mode and also resolve to resist checking messages and emails during time out.

Try planning with your partner to get up a little earlier two or three times a week so that you can spend ten or fifteen minutes together before work rather than just rushing off.

Try blocking out time for a regular date night, in or out, with your partner.

Get regular exercise; this may sound a bit boring to some but is known to help us relax and to lift the mood. It also boosts our energy and makes us more alert; ideal for helping us to work efficiently. The key to success is to find an enjoyable form of exercise that suits you in your individual circumstances. Snatch whatever time you can for exercise; any exercise is better than none, but aim to do something every day.

Relaxation helps to relieve stress. Take ten or fifteen minutes a day to relax; try yoga, meditation, visualisation, music, candle lit baths, aromatherapy massages, pedicures or whatever appeals to you. Laughter is excellent for lifting the mood so try watching comedy films or programmes. Also, if you’re regularly working overtime it’s a good idea to plan to have one evening a week when you leave the office a little earlier than usual.

Focus well on your work and avoid unnecessary chatting and activities. This way you can work faster and more efficiently, giving yourself a better chance of leaving work at the right time.

Take proper breaks and all your annual leave allocation. Take proper breaks at work whenever you can; it’s been proven that you will work better and it will help you to feel less stressed. Lunch breaks are a great time for a little exercise. Don’t be tempted to forgo vacation time; you will be more productive at work if you are rested. You need vacation time and so does your family.

Involve colleagues and managers in keeping track of your working hours; record them if necessary. Talk to your line manager about work stress before it becomes serious and encourage your colleagues to speak out too. It is in the best interests of the management to have a happy, efficient work force.

Out-source some of the time consuming, boring chores at home. Grocery shopping could be done online, someone could be employed to clean the house, cut the grass and clean the windows; do everything you can to free up time for fun. If money is tight consider spending any spare money on employing help and doing family activities that are inexpensive or free of charge, such as going cycling, swimming, visiting museums, going to the park, playing on the beach, having picnics, playing ball games, board games and so on. At least you’ll be spending quality time together and you can find inventive ways of making these activities more exciting.  Also, don’t forget that you need to make time to be alone with your partner and make space just for yourself too.