If you have a job and a family, you are probably struggling to find work-life balance. If you have children under the age of 18 or aging parents, it may be an even greater struggle.
Path to improved wellness
Finding work-life balance in the midst of a busy schedule may seem impossible. However, there are ways to achieve balance.
- Establish limits. Look at your work schedule each day and prioritize what needs to get done. We all want to please the boss. However, it’s important to say no or ask for help with an assignment when you can (without penalty).
- Manage your time. Don’t let things, such as office chatter, personal calls and emails, social media, or surfing the internet distract you. You can easily lose several hours a day just on these distractions. That’s lost time at work that you may have to make up at home.
- Make to-do lists. Making lists keeps you on track. Be sure to check off the tasks you have completed. This gives you a positive sense of accomplishment.
- Don’t bring it home. Bringing work home should be reserved for rare occasions or emergencies.
- Consider other options. Talk to your employer about working part-time if you can afford it. Perhaps getting an assistant at work or asking for help from others is a possibility. If your work schedule is impossible, consider looking for another job. This could be with your current employer or outside your employer.
- Simplify your commute. Look at other possibilities to make your commute less stressful. Some public transportation (buses or commuter trains) allows you to sit and enjoy the ride. Or, if you must work extra, do it as a passenger. Carpooling with another employee can lessen the stress of being behind the wheel each day. Look for alternate routes. Talk to your employer about work-from-home options.
- Eat well. Eat healthy protein at each meal (eggs, lean meats, beans) with fruit, vegetables, and low carbohydrate options (whole grains, for example). This will keep your body fueled for the stress you may have in your work and personal life. Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol, and sweets. These things take energy away from your body.
- Exercise. Even if you hate to exercise, you will feel better when you’ve finished. Exercise releases hormones in your body that brighten your attitude and make you feel energized.
- Get adequate sleep. As an adult, you should plan to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Maintain a sleep routine by not staying up too late on weekends. Do not sleep late on weekends.
- Take your medicines. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for a health condition, follow his or her instructions. An untreated medical condition can make you feel tired, sick, and add to your stress.
- Lean on your support system. Consider yourself lucky if you have a partner, spouse, parents, or friends who can help you when you are overwhelmed. Talk to these people (by phone or in person) when you are stressed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Have fun. Think you’re too busy to have fun? Schedule time to relax. It can be a vacation, a dinner, or even a 20-minute coffee with a friend. Be present in the moment with your family and friends. Laugh.
- Use available resources. If you are a caregiver to an aging parent, there are resources to help. Consider using a meal service if your parent needs help cooking. Look at hospice services if your parent is nearing end of life. If you are caring for young children, some churches offer respite care (babysitting) to busy parents.
- Rotate care responsibilities. Again, if you are a caregiver to an aging parent or a child, share responsibilities with another person. This can be a spouse, partner, or another sibling.
- Count your blessings. Studies show that if you look at what’s good in your life, you will feel less stressed.
Things to consider
The job of trying to balance work and your personal life can be stressful if you don’t get it under control. Specifically, stress can trigger:
- Illness. Things like high blood pressure, headaches, stomach upset, fatigue, anxiety, and depression are related to stress.
- Unhealthy behaviors. When you can’t cope with stress, it may lead to substance abuse, binge eating, or tobacco use.
- Damage to relationships. Stress can lead to tensions with friends and family. It can lead to anger at work. Also, it can lead to isolation from those people and things that normally bring you joy.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Which exercises are best for relieving stress?
- Can certain vitamin supplements help with stress?
- Can talking to a counselor help?
- What other types of illnesses can stress trigger?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.