Tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance

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Time flies. That’s no secret. It seems to slip past us quicker than we realize, and no matter how we try to bring balance to our lives, there never seem to be enough hours in a day.

We want that time off work, but we don’t want to get complacent and fall behind on our work at the same time. Our bodies crave downtime, and yet some days our minds simply won’t allow it to happen.

The work-life balance can often be skewed toward the “too much work” end of the spectrum. In this article, we’ll talk about a few ways you can learn to kick back and find that balance away from your working life that you’ve been looking for.

Consider taking a vacation. If it’s not in the budget to get away to the country for a few days or take a trip over to the next state, there are little ways you can create a stay-cation for yourself – just a day to yourself to rest and recover.

You may think you cannot afford it. You may be afraid of facing extra work when you return. However, you can’t let these fears stop you, particularly if you’re feeling burnt out.

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You don’t even have to go anywhere. You can set yourself up with a foot massager and a good book. Go for a hike. Whatever it is you need to relax, even if you don’t plan to leave the house, do it unashamedly. That time spent decompressing is an investment in your mental and possibly physical health.

The U.S. Travel Association states that more than half of all employees in the country have unused vacation time at the end of every year. Don’t be among that number!

Equally as important as the downtime itself is the need to schedule a time for yourself. Even if you work a 9-5 job, there’s a good chance you’ll still have some work to do after hours, whether that’s related to your job or not.

It’s a difficult thing not to try to get a jump on the things you need to do when you’re technically off the clock. However, as much as possible, schedule a time for work and time away from it and stick to it. If you don’t make time for yourself, for your family and for your health by setting up a schedule for yourself, you may catch yourself working until the wee hours of the morning before you know it.

If you don’t have an exercise routine, it’s a good idea to start. Research indicates that exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it’s beneficial for your mental health as well. Time spent exercising rather than working pumps endorphins into your nervous system. Endorphins are hormones that basically make your brain feel good. An exercise is a form of meditation in which you can let the worries of the workday melt away as you focus on the exercise and the way your body moves.

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That bit of escape can help bring the work-life balance back into focus and clear your mind so you can approach your work again with a fresh eye and a new start.

There are things you can do at work to help with your work-life balance, too. Firstly, don’t procrastinate. Taking a break is fine and good, but procrastination is only going to make working worse.

While that little time off you spend putting off work that needs to be done can feel rewarding in the short term, it only makes the worse that much harder because you lose time and get closer to your deadline without getting anything of significance done.

When you make your to-do list for the day, whether it’s related to work or not, make sure it’s manageable. Prioritize what you need to do and push any tasks at the bottom of your to-do list to another day. Trim the fat off of your agenda, get the work done you need to and let the rest that isn’t urgent rest when the workday is done. This helps avoid burnout.

It’s an easy source of stress when we look at our to-do lists, and there are still tasks that remain undone. The truth is we all have those tasks that can and should go on the backburner. Prioritizing is not procrastination.

If you find yourself in the weeds, don’t be afraid to take a step back and breathe. Working yourself to the bone and pushing too hard can really take its toll on your mental and physical health. There’s no shame in taking a step away from your desk for a few minutes just to take a walk and clear your head.

With all this in mind, it is worth saying that there is no one, perfect work-life balance. It would be great if we could split our time literally in two – half for work and a half for everything else – but the truth is that simply isn’t the way it’s going to go every day.

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Don’t be perfect when it comes to balancing work and the rest of your life. Be realistic. Some days might require you to work and to do some overdue housekeeping or food prep or helping your kids with their homework. Other days, you can spend the day at the park with your family and turn off the notifications on your phone to just getaway for the day. Both of these are okay. Both of these types of days happen.

The work-life balance is less about quantifying your time properly (though that is certainly a factor) and more about self-assessment. Some days, the top of your to-do list is going to be related to your job or your kids, maybe it’s the housework.

Work your way through the to-do list one step at a time and when the designated workday is done, walk away. Save the rest of the tasks for later.

Take care of your to-do list, but take care of yourself!

What do you do to balance your work life and your personal life? How do you fight burnout from day-to-day?