Tips For Maintaining Work-Life Balance

For many, maintaining a proper work-life balance can be a struggle, even in the best of times. It’s understandable if this year it has felt impossible. But the reality is it’s never been more critical.

As more and more people work from home, the lines between work and home have blurred more than ever before. Bedrooms, living rooms, and spare bedrooms have become offices, classrooms, and daycares. Daily commutes to-and-from work that would traditionally serve as a mental transition period between work and home are gone, and with it, for some, the mental off-switch that would result from a drive home listening to the radio or favorite podcast.

Why does it matter? According to both Mental Health America and the Mayo Clinic, an improper work-life balance can lead to increased levels of stress, a decrease in productivity, or even impact your physical health, potentially weakening your immune system or exasperating symptoms of some medical conditions. While there’s no perfect answer for everyone in combatting the added stress and “always-on” mentality that often accompanies working from home, there are many small adjustments you can make that could help.

      • Alarms. Set alarms for when it’s time to log-in and start work and when it’s time to call it quits for the day. Don’t be afraid to set alarms for breaks or lunch, too. Without a typical workday structure, it’s much too easy to lose track of time and realize you haven’t had a break or have worked a longer-than-normal day. Over time, that could take a toll. 
      • Breaks. Don’t be afraid to take breaks. Take a quick 5-10 minutes to stretch, freshen up your coffee, or get some fresh air on the back patio. If you have other family members working or attending school from home, perhaps you can coordinate breaks to happen at the same time. It’s likely that a typical day in the office would have involved some small breaks from work, whether it’s a quick chat with coworkers or a walk to the coffee shop. Maintain those short breathers!
      • Put away your work stuff! If you work from a laptop, fold it up and put it away when you’re done. Work papers? Gather them up and put them in a desk drawer - especially if your workspace is in your bedroom, dining room, or other space that isn’t a dedicated office. Not thinking about work is much more difficult if you spend evenings and morning staring at your work things!
      • Unplug. Working from home may mean a lot more computer time than most are used to in a typical workday. To compensate, think about reducing how much you stare at a screen outside of work. Reading more, going on walks, or an extra round of fetch with Fido might help decompress.
      • Talk to your friends, neighbors, or coworkers! For many, working from home can mean being a lot more isolated than what they’re used to. Take some time to reach out and chat with friends and coworkers. “Social Distancing” doesn’t have to mean not being social!

These are just a small number of things you can do to help combat stress and achieve a better work-life balance. While these things may work better for some more than others, the important thing is to find what works best for you. 

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