close-up of a messy desk

A healthy work-life balance is becoming harder and harder to maintain. Technology makes it so easy for us to stay connected to our work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most statistics indicate that Americans do a poor job maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A survey from Gallup found that the average full-time employee in the U.S. works forty-seven hours a week. In another survey, 63% of U.S. employees stated that job-related stress caused them to regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors.

So what’s the secret to finding a healthy work-life balance? Unfortunately, there’s no magic answer. Your work-life balance will probably look different from your co-worker’s. That being said, the only way to find that balance is to try a few different strategies. Here are six ideas to get you started. 

Work-Life Balance Starts With Unplugging 

One important aspect of creating a healthy work-life balance is to leave your work at work. Or, at least, quarantine your work to specific places or times. By unplugging—both electronically and mentally—you allow yourself the time you need to focus on other important areas of your life. 

1. Write tomorrow’s to-do list before you leave.

It all starts before you even leave work. At the end of the day, take five minutes to review what you’ve gotten done and write a to-do list for tomorrow. That way, you already have a clear idea of what your next day on the job looks like. Hopefully, this helps you avoid lying awake at night trying to strategize your workload for the next day. 

Pro Tip: If you love making to-do lists and taking notes, than you may want to give Bullet Journaling a try. This is a specific system for organizing your tasks, notes, lists, and everything else about your life. It’s easy to learn and doesn’t require any special books or tools.  

2. Disconnect from your workday with a mini-ritual on your commute home. 

Disconnect from your work day by starting a small ritual or habit on your way home. Take a few deep breaths, listen to a specific song or playlist, put on your favorite podcast, or ceremoniously turn off your email and slack notifications. Whatever this mini-ritual might be, simply making it a habit will trigger your subconscious into mentally disconnecting from work. 

3. Don’t check your work messages during time with family and friends.  

This is another vital aspect of creating a healthy work-life balance. By making a point to turn off work-related notifications you’re forcing yourself to be fully engaged with those you care about the most. This not only helps you relax, but shows your friends and family that your relationships with them are more important than your work. 

Of course, sometimes our jobs require us to be reachable at all times. If this is the case for you, set up a specific system for being “on call”. Whether this means only being available a set amount of hours, only taking work calls if it’s an emergency—make sure to set specific parameters for your on-call hours. 

Perfecting Your Work-Life Balance With Self-Care 

4. Exercise to stay fit and relieve stress.   

There’s more to exercise than staying healthy. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is not only a way to stay fit, it also relieves stress. Exercise does this by increasing your endorphins (also known as your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters). In a recent study, 67% of 18-29 year olds said regular exercise was one of the best ways to avoid burnout. You don’t have to run a marathon or train for a triathlon. Simple activities like taking a walk or playing basketball is enough to reduce stress and put you in a good mood.

Besides improving your mood, exercise can increase self-confidence, relax you, lower symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your sleep, and even get you closer to a meditative state. The focus that comes from exercising regularly can help you remain calm and collected in other areas of your life. 

Pro tip: any kind of exercise will increase your fitness level and decrease your stress. Do what you love! Whether it’s walking, rollerblading, yoga, gardening, or running around the yard with your dog. Take care of yourself and relieve some stress with exercise!

5. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. 

Sleep is just as important to your health as diet or exercise. The side effects of poor sleep are: moodiness, fatigue, irritability, depression, difficulty learning, and forgetfulness. More serious health problems come along with chronic sleep issues including: heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Bottom line: don’t mess with sleep. It could have serious consequences. 

Pro tip: Don’t spend a lot of time on your phone or watch too much TV before you go to sleep. I know, I know…we all watch Netflix before we go to bed. But, in reality, the light from your phone or the TV can interrupt your body’s normal sleep patterns and keep you feeling alert. While this is great during the day, it isn’t super helpful when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Experts recommend limiting your phone and TV exposure 30 to 60 minutes before bed to allow your body to naturally produce melatonin. While it may be hard to give up your nighttime Netflix addiction, in the end your body (and your brain) will thank you for it. 

6. Meditation for mindful work-life balance. 

Even if you don’t call it “meditation”, simply making a point to be more mindful in your everyday life will help you reduce stress. Taking a few moments to quietly reflect on the day (whether in the morning or at night) puts things in perspective and helps you think more clearly about the day’s events. Perhaps during a minute of reflection, you realize that the irritation you feel towards your co-worker could be resolved with an honest conversation. Or maybe gathering your thoughts will help calm your anxiety about an upcoming meeting.  

Pro tip: Download a meditation app. Whether you want to start with a five-day guided practice session from “The Mindfulness App” or try out the sleep tracks and nature soundscapes from “Headspace”, a meditation app will help you take advantage of the quiet moments in your day. 

Skip the Stress with Workbox 

Stress can be a huge drain on your system. At Workbox Staffing, we make finding a new job or hiring a qualified candidate simple and stress-free. We know that there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to jobs. That’s why we pair job seekers with a personalized career coach who listens and understands your skills and goals. Are you ready to take the next step in your job search? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Contact us today about finding your next job.