Work-Life Balance: Why it Matters Now More Than Ever
Today, achieving the famous “work-life balance” is seemingly becoming harder in modern society. One of the most apparent reasons for this is our dependence and access to various forms of technology. Whether it be social media, news outlets, television, or the internet in general, many cultures worldwide are fostering the behavior of “always being on.” What does this mean exactly? In layman’s terms, it means society rarely takes a break—from social interaction, working, school, and ingesting various forms of media. While it is arguably essential to dedicate time to these areas, it’s also important to take time away. With millennials making up roughly 75% of the workforce today, there has been a tremendous shift in emphasizing more work-life balance and its benefits to society.
As mentioned in one of our previous blogs, cultivating balance in your lifestyle is vital for a healthy and happy life. Doing so means setting aside time for yourself throughout the week to focus on things that bring you fulfillment and joy. Whether you’re a full-time student, employee, or anything in between, we will look at:
- Why all of this is important
- Some of the activities you can practice to promote a balanced lifestyle
- The benefits it can offer to you
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?
It’s essential to understand why work-life balance is such a “buzzword” in today’s cultures. As societies continue to evolve, so have the values of each working generation. As found by Forbes, the Baby Boomer generation—born between 1945-1960—craved career stability due to the hardships faced during World War II, with many valuing employment above all else. However, Forbes also found 80% of the Baby Boomer generation reported moderate to high stress in their careers due to overworking. As a result, there have been reports of adverse effects on both their physical and mental health.
While honoring work is highly regarded, it’s vital to not overwork. Studies find that overworked employees experience career fatigue and, eventually, burnout, ultimately disrupting their work performance and potentially other areas of their lives. Additionally, overworking isn’t only costly to the employee’s health, but also hits the organization’s wallets. According to the Harvard Business Review, an overworking toll can affect a company’s bottom line, costing an estimated $125 to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S. alone. That’s a significant chunk of change companies could mitigate by simply prioritizing work-life balance!
The same situations can happen in academics. While it is vital to dedicate ample time to learn your field of interest, it's necessary to balance life and school. By spending too much time focusing solely on your studies, burnout can potentially disrupt your growth and learning environment. Things like performing poorly on tests, not working collaboratively with others, and not comprehending the material thoroughly are just a few negative implications of burnout. Without a balance, you can also develop a disdain for the subject altogether, especially if it becomes too overwhelming. A school-life balance not only will increase your learning capacity, but also help you to put your best foot forward throughout the entirety of your collegiate journey.
In either instance—work or school—having that balance is essential. It will ultimately allow you to perform at your best, helping you meet your metrics and achieve your goals.
Moving forward, let’s take a gander at exercises you can incorporate to facilitate a balanced lifestyle.
Leave Work at Work
Whether you’re working part or full-time, leaving your work at work is getting harder to do as we advance in the technological age. Most of us have access to everything we need simply from our handheld devices, which always keeps us connected. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it can cause temptation to check your emails after hours or burn the midnight oil in your downtime. So, make sure to do your best and leave your work at work. Remember, it’s not homework, it’s work.
If you’re in school, homework is part of the collegiate journey. However, this doesn’t mean that you should crowd your entire home with textbooks and papers! Have dedicated spaces for both school and leisure. This way, you avoid mixing the two and can separately enjoy those spaces without feeling overwhelmed to do more than necessary.
Unplug for an Hour a Day
Unplugging—most the time—refers to taking a break from technology. In the working world, this may simply mean turning off the emails, pings, and all work-related computer activity after the day is over. However, it’s not entirely bad to take a break from technology altogether. It gives your eyes a much-needed pause and helps your brain take a breather as well. Doing something such as reading a physical book—yes, one where you turn the pages—or tending to your garden, is a great way to engage the mind and declutter the build-up of too much consumable content.
The same tactics can be administered in your academics. For example, perhaps you have a rule where you do nothing school-related on your computer after a particular time of day. Instead of staying on your computer to do other things, shut it down all together and find ways to engage yourself in separate outlets. Whether that’s joining student organizations or volunteering your time at the local animal shelter, having that tech break can do wonders.
Make Mental Health a Priority
With the coronavirus pandemic upending the year 2020, mental health has taken a dramatic hit. Countless employees worldwide have seen a rise in work-related stress with COVID-19 and are spending more time working than before the pandemic. Therefore, it’s vital to put mental health at the forefront of your priorities now more than ever.
Doing something as simple as meditating or taking a mental pause to breathe once a day are great starting points. Look into your employer’s resources; you’d be surprised how much support companies provide to ease stress and improve mental health. Also, think about actually taking that much-needed vacation. Did you know this year, employers are encouraging staff to take a vacation break? It’s because they understand the value of recharging your batteries and coming back rejuvenated.
While taking a mental vacation from school might be a little more complicated, there are ways to still make mental health a priority. Going back to finding a school-life balance, your brain craves a day to do non-school-related activities. By doing this, you’re allowing yourself a mental break, so when you do return to the books, you’re restored and ready to go. You can also bring your classmates in and form a pact to hold each other accountable, ensuring you all take breaks and avoid mental burnout.
Whether you’re in school, work, or both, mental health is a necessity that should always be front and center. As mentioned previously, we’re in the digital age, and there are ample usable resources created to help with mental health. See below a few viable options.
- youper: A fantastic artificial intelligence (AI) software that provides therapy
- betterhelp: A counseling service that offers affordable, private online counseling
- headspace: A sleep and meditation app that helps you take a mental pause when you need it and promotes a mindset of balance
Always Find Time for What Matters
For both work and school, finding time for what matters most is of the utmost importance. As Taylor Swift famously sings, “the best people in life are free,” which couldn’t be more accurate. Spending time with family, friends, and those around you who you cherish makes life worth living. Having commitments is imperative, but you don’t want it to consume your life to the point where you cannot focus on what truly matters—living life to its fullest!
How Does This Help Me?
The most significant reason balance can help you is for your health—both physical and mental. By having balance incorporated into your lifestyle, you can increase efficiencies, get more done, and spend more time doing what brings you joy. People who promote balanced lifestyles find themselves happier and healthier, decreasing their stress and increasing their dopamine levels.
Besides your health, you may find that balance in your life helps your work and school performance improve exponentially. Employees and students that take time away from their work and studies find themselves doing better in the long run. Remember, it’s not a sprint, but a marathon!
You will always have time to improve your work ethic, but you’ll only have so much time to spend with your family and watch your kids grow up. As mentioned many times, balancing your life allows you to enjoy both work and personal life. So, find the routine that works best for you and enjoy the beautiful world of balance!