Navigating a healthy work-life balance is one of many reasons individuals seek out therapy. We live in a busy world, filled with high (and often unrealistic) expectations of our work lives. There is intense pressure to be busy, productive, successful, etc. With this kind of pressure, it’s no wonder that personal lives are often sacrificed. This means we have less time and energy to invest in relationships with friends and family and have less time for hobbies and leisure activities. Unfortunately, this is rarely sustainable, so we become overwhelmed, burned out, and often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It’s normal to find that we are spending more time in one area of our life — we’re human! But when we find we that we are off balance, what can we do to find our center?
Work to identify specifics of what a healthy work schedule would look like for you. Does it mean leaving by a certain time each day? Or not checking your email after you leave the office? Once you’ve decided, make a commitment to honor your own boundaries.
Additionally, practice communication skills like assertiveness and saying “no.” This, of course, is easier said than done. Many of us struggle with asserting ourselves and setting boundaries because we fear letting others down or being perceived as lazy, a failure, etc. A therapist can help you in practicing these skills and challenging the obstacles to asserting your needs.
Make an effort to identify activities that you enjoy and then make room for them in your schedule. Do you enjoy yoga? Then sign up for two classes during the week. Does getting outside help you to relax? Make sure you take a walk each day, even if its only for 5 minutes. Love reading? Set aside fifteen minutes before bed to read a book you find interesting.
In addition to the activities you enjoy, make sure to prioritize the people that are important to you. In a relationship? Schedule a date night every week. Want to see more of your friends? Work to find a time and place you can all get together and put it in your calendar.
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. You can hold yourself accountable for the changes you are trying to make by communicating with the people in your life. Go beyond simply planning a date night with your partner, and have a conversation and explain the efforts you are making. If you find it’s hard to get yourself to do activities outside of work (like yoga or other hobbies) alone, invite someone along.
In addition to supportive people in your life, therapy can help you to cultivate a healthy work-life balance. A therapist can work with you to identify obstacles to finding balance and create a realistic plan for making changes.
Finally, the most important takeaway is that by prioritizing your wellness, you aren’t being selfish! Not only will you feel better, but you will be a better employee, colleague, boss, partner, family member, and friend.
Cobb Psychotherapy LCSW