"How do you maintain your work/life balance? Maybe you had a terrible dy, and you decide going for a run or a walk would help clear your head and de-stress more than doing the laundry. don't make yourself feel guilty for this." - alexa lingren
How do you maintain your work/life balance? Maybe your idea of a great Monday night is spending the evening hanging out with your friends after a long day, venting about work and life, getting home, falling into bed, and waking up to do it all over again. Maybe you would rather come home, make your house feel clean and organized, watch mindless TV by yourself, and fall asleep on the couch by 9pm. Whichever category you fall into, you may find yourself frustrated if you don’t balance your time with a little dose of both options.
How do you get energy?
Some people are introverts and recharge by being alone. Other are extroverts and enjoy socializing and getting energy from other people. Knowing yourself in this way can be very important when thinking about your own personal work/life balance. Maybe you set limits to attending two social events per week. If you know you will feel burnt out after saying yes to a third event, practice “saying no” when you get invited to that third event. Know yourself and know when staying home and getting things done around the house would make you feel better the next day versus going out for that event. Also, recognize when you’ve maybe spent too much time alone that week and need some socialization. Saying no can also refer to working outside of work. Of course, you may have required things you have to do off the clock, but if they are not required, try to prioritize when you’re thinking about bringing work home. Can you shift things around and get it done while at work? Does it have to be done the night after you worked a 12 hour day, or can it wait until tomorrow?
Another work/life balance concern is the amount of time spent at work or talking about work. Those who spend 40+ hours a week tend to use the fleeting hours they have off the clock, talking about work. I have had clients who have said to me: “How do I stop spending my entire evening complaining about work to my friend/significant other/coworkers? I feel drained getting home at 7pm, talking about work until 8, and waking up at 6 to go back and do it all over again. This only gives me 2 hours of work-free time.” One idea I give people is to use the “two positives and one negative” rule.
Set a timer
You can set a timer on your phone, give yourself 10-15 minutes, and discuss your day; however, make sure you end with at least two positives from your day and only one negative. This process is beneficial for two reasons: it helps you keep the discussion to a 10 minute minimum, and it helps you put your day in perspective. Yes, maybe you felt like nothing good happened all day, but chances are, if you really think about it, you can find at least two positive events. And yes, it may feel therapeutic to complain about all the terrible things that happened, but really, they may have felt worse because of the one major thing that happened that day. So, keep your conversation to 10 minutes, and don’t forget to point out the positives.
Finally, it may help to keep your time off the clock somewhat organized, so you don’t start to feel stressed or overwhelmed to have some time at home, not knowing what you should be doing. Keep a whiteboard or notebook in your house that you use to make a weekly list of things you want to get done. Make a note of doctors appointments you need to make, bills that need to be paid, and household chores that have to get done that week.
Make time for yourself
And lastly, make time for YOU when you think about your priorities. Maybe you had a terrible day, and you decide that going for a run or a walk would help clear your head and destress more than doing the laundry. Don’t make yourself feel guilty for this. You will get the laundry done on the weekend, and you took the time that day to help yourself shake off the bad day and show up to work ready to make the next day better. So, no matter how you choose to personalize your time off, make sure to balance it in a way that will help you feel like you are able to have a life outside of work, but are also able to return to work each day ready to do the best you can and feel happier doing it.
Alexa Lingren, LMSW, LMAC