As contract jobs, remote work, and work cellphones rise in popularity, the line between our work lives and our personal lives continues to blur.
You may find yourself checking your emails in bed, bringing your spouse along for a work trip, or setting up shop at your kitchen table. But, in a world where work can take place at all hours of the day – and virtually anywhere – the question becomes whether it should. That’s because chasing an elusive work-life balance brings with it many potential problems for your health.
Here at Tri-City Medical Center, we’ve collected everything you need to know about how your work life affects your wellbeing, and an approach you can try to keep you both productive and healthy.
The Sobering Science
The research connecting overworking to poor health is extensive and the results are uncomfortably clear: give too much of yourself to your work life and you could start to feel the impact on your health.
The reason for this is two-fold. Ongoing stress causes your body to get stuck in a pattern of over-producing cortisol, which can contribute to complaints like headaches and sleeping disorders.
Once you’re feeling the symptoms of stress, you often want to indulge in unhealthy coping methods such as smoking, overeating, and limiting your physical activity in the name of relaxation. This makes you feel even worse, and can lead to more serious issues like weight gain and heart problems.
But if stressful work makes you feel so bad, why is it still so easy to keep sacrificing your personal life for your job? It may have a lot to do with the framework we commonly use to guide our lives: the work-life balance.
The Myth of the Work-Life Balance
The work-life balance requires you to evenly divide your time between all aspects of your life. You need to be a top employee on the one hand, and an inspirational parent, a good friend, a loving spouse, and a thoughtful neighbor on the other.
But this approach is flawed. When you are unable to maintain all aspects of your life as separate entities, the imbalance is equated with failure, which only adds to your stress levels. Not only that, but the balance becomes difficult to maintain when work takes center stage.
In today’s fast-paced corporate world, employees who go the extra mile are rewarded, and a high-flying career is the epitome of success. Technological advancements have made it even easier to work more hours from anywhere and at any time.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t combine your work life and your personal life in a healthy way – you just need to try a different approach.
The Work-Life Blend
The work-life blend recognizes that your job and your personal life are intertwined, so you should mix them in the way that works best for you.
With this model, none of the aspects of your life have to suffer; you can work hard when you need to, and you can even take advantage of the technology that allows you to work anywhere and at any time.
The difference is you’re working in a smarter, more considered way than simply putting in the hours and then feeling guilty about your lack of personal life. There’s no concern about time and equally balancing your other duties – it’s simply a question of focus.
By regularly checking in with yourself, you can see what you want to concentrate on most at that moment. This kind of intentional awareness is one of the best ways to practice preventive self-care, especially during the busy end of year.
Whether it’s finalizing a work project or preparing for the holiday season with your family, you can choose to focus on what you need to achieve. And because a work-life blend is flexible, you can constantly change your main priority. In the end, every aspect of your life gets the attention that it needs, when it needs it, so you can live your life to its fullest.
Contact Tri-City Medical Center today and speak to our knowledgeable team for more tips on finding balance in your life.