Wikipedia defines work–life balance as “a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).”
However, many experts believe there is no longer any such thing as a work-life balance. Instead, they feel that people should consider work-life “fusion” or “integration.” This is because it is increasingly difficult to separate our professional life from our personal life since the lines have blurred thanks to telecommuting, smart phones, and email. Trying to establish boundaries (or separation) often creates instability, not to mention guilt and self-criticism when that strategy fails.
So, how does it all mesh? If you’re constantly worried about tipping the scales in one direction or the other, you will become increasingly stressed trying to find that balance. Then, of course, stress creates anxiety and/or depression, and intensifies other types of disorders.
Integrating your professional life with your personal life is a lot easier than it sounds. Chances are you’ve already been doing it to some extent without even realizing it. Perhaps you’ve fused your business contacts with family and friends on social media networks. Maybe you take your spouse and/or kids with you on business trips so you can spend more time together. Or, possibly you are one of the 30 million Americans who work from home at least one or more days a week.
Other ways you can find your equilibrium and achieve “life balance” is by:
Making time for downtime:
Give yourself at least one day a week or a couple of hours each day to turn off the phone, shut down the laptop, and relax. Read a book, watch a movie, or take a walk.
Spending quality time with family and/or friends:
Schedule regular date nights with your spouse, meet friends for coffee, or take the kids to the park on Saturday afternoons.
Being good to yourself:
Get a facial or pedicure, buy tickets to a game or concert, or pick up your favorite bottle of wine and share it with someone special.
Living a healthy lifestyle:
Eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, drink plenty of water, and make time for exercise. You should also reduce alcohol and nicotine, and get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Be a good steward of your time by saying “no” to activities that don’t enhance your professional or personal life, or bring you pleasure.
Minimizing negative influences:
Try to avoid toxic people and activities that zap your time and energy. If you can’t drop or sidestep them completely, at least minimize the time you spend on them.
A well-balanced person who is able to integrate their professional and personal lives can focus on goals with more clarity, take productive action, and have meaningful relationships. If you are struggling with trying to find that balance and feel overwhelmed, consider seeing a professional such as a psychologist to help you develop an effective action plan with realistic goals.