It wasn’t until I sat in my office, nearly in tears after another 10 hour day, that I realized I could not keep going like this any longer. It was only Wednesday… and I still had two more long days ahead of me before I could even think about getting some rest. Work-life balance? I had none. I felt like I had been hit by a train.
As with most days, as soon as I got home I went straight to the couch and didn’t get up until I waddled to bed and woke up the next morning to start all over again.
I started to feel resentment towards a job that I love so much.
Sound familiar? That’s because you are not alone. Too many of us allow ourselves to be overworked, and then wonder why we are so miserable staying at 110%, 100% of the time.
We propel ourselves into our work either because we love it, we are demanded of it, or we are burying ourselves in it to avoid a larger issue.
Either way, this isn’t healthy.
So how do you find that balance between yourself and your work? The answer is this: take care of your mental health as much as you are told to take care of your physical health.
It is said that over 75% of people are afraid of getting punished for taking a day off to attend to their mental health!
At some point you have to “turn off” and just let yourself be.
So to help you get started, here are 9 ways to maintain a work-life balance for your mental health.
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Put Yourself First
First things first, your job is not more important than your health, your well-being or your sanity. It is not who you are, it is what you do. While many people identify themselves based on their occupation or career, but the truth is that you are so much more.
While you may derive your sense of purpose from your work, there is still much more to your life than this one thing that you make a living off of.
The truth is, we also find meaning in our family, our friends, our self image, how we identify ourselves, our hobbies, our community, and even how we use our free time.
Prioritize yourself so that you can keep enjoying all of these little pieces that make your life whole.
Take Breaks and Plan A Vacation
Just like your body needs rest, so does your mind. Vacations and break time are essential to maintaining your work-life balance because they help with recharging your mental batteries.
Start planning your next vacation or weekend get-away. Even if you don’t take time off, you need to plan a time for when you are not mentally still at work.
Tips for Taking Breaks
- Don’t skip lunch
- Go to the bathroom as soon as you need to!
- Drink plenty of water
- Take a break at minimum every 4 hours
- Get up and walk around
- Go outside and get fresh air
Make Socializing A Priority
Because a typical 40 hour job requires you to spend a lot of your time at work, you should get to know the people around you. Try to make friends or do something together. Having connections and support at your job can make the long days easier because your co-workers may be one of the few people who understand where you’re coming from.
Related: How To Make Friends As An Introvert
To keep up a healthy work-life balance, you may need to put in a little extra work. To maximize your time, start planning in advance. Schedule your down time just like any other meeting, deadline, or project. Arriving early with a plan can help you to get in and get out so you can make the most of your day.
Turn It Off / Get Rid of The Email App
This simple little task can make a big impact. If you are anything like me, you are probably constantly on your phone, and every time you hear the “ding!” what’s the first thing you do?
Check to see what it was of course!
Whether you remove the email app completely or silent the notifications, you need to give yourself the mental space to not be at work! Look at your phone as an extension of yourself, do you really want to know every new email that comes in?
To truly have a healthy work-life balance, you need to set boundaries with your supervisor, clients, and anyone else that can effect the total amount of hours you spend working. Realistically thinking, are you working more than you are being paid for? Don’t undersell yourself. Take charge of your life and draw the line where you see fit.
Tips for Setting Boundaries
- Clearly set your work hours and stick to them!
- Don’t work on the weekends
- Learn to let go of other people’s problems
- Be comfortable with saying “no”
- Keep your well-being as top priority
Develop Goals and Re-evaluate
In order to determine where your line is, you’ll need to define your priorities. Write them on a sheet of paper and start developing goals around these priorities. What does work-life balance look like for you? What do you want a typical day to look like? Think about what your motivations are and start from there.
Ask For Help
There is no shame in asking for help. It’s in our nature to contribute to the greater good of the group. If you’re slated with a new project, see if you can get someone else to contribute. Not only will this bring on a new perspective, but it is something you both can connect with and build a friendship over.
“We know that our bodies suffer from overwork and lack of leisure: anxiety, mental-health issues – we’re not designed to work more than about 40 hours a week. Our systems wear out and the quality of the work suffers. After 50 hours, it crashes and burns.”
– Katrina Onstad
JUST SAY NO. It can be harder than it sounds, but remember that your time is valuable, and you have to decide what it’s worth. Don’t let others pressure you into overcommitting. Always remember to put yourself first. You are the only one in control of your work-life balance.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Is this worth the time and effort?
- What will I have to give up in order to do this?
- Is that what I want?
- What are the benefits?
- How much of an impact will this bring?
In conclusion, maintaining a healthy work-life balance for your mental health is essential for your well-being. No matter how much you love your job, it’s important to turn off for a while and focus on other things in your life that help to bring meaning and joy.