An important topic that is too often swept under the rug- how does work impact our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health? In more ways than you can imagine, and I am going to talk through each of these dimensions and how to know if your work is supporting you or actually bringing you down. These statement such as:
“Work makes me feel depressed.”
“Work is so stressful this week, I feel like I could cry.”
“My boss yelled at me and I cannot even look at them without feeling anxious.”
“I feel like I am swamped and can’t come up for air.”
Ever heard these, said them, or variations in your day to day? Me too. Unfortunately the culture in America is very “go go go” and I find that the burnout lifestyle is put on a pedestal before the self care route which is very damaging. A great book I read on this topic recently is called Win at Work and Succeed at Life by Micheal Hyatt which goes over how toxic this mindset is and how to break free from it. I highly recommend it!
For many of us when we were younger, school was our main source of stress- getting there on time, making sure your homework was complete, studying for that test, finding out whether or not you pass the test, and so on and so forth. But at some point we graduate from school and enter the “real world” as people like to say, where you may become employed and salaried. Now of course this is not the norm for everyone, many people take a year to travel, do volunteer work, get a law degree, go back to school, whatever it might be- and all of those choices are valid and great in their own respects. I will frame this blog post from my own perspective of course, where I joined the workforce a month out of graduating college and have had more of the standard 9-5 workday. However, I completely understand that I am missing a lot of perspective for other career choices and life directions people may take.
Instead of homework in school, you may be assigned tasks to complete during the work day. Instead of a school presentation, you may be leading a discussion or holding a roundtable on a certain topic. Work challenges you in many ways and allows you to expand upon lots of skills- analytical skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, number crutching, writing, speaking, and the list goes on. Work takes up a big part of our lives- almost a third of our lives are spent working.
Work is hard. Not many people say ” I am excited to work tomorrow ” on a Sunday after a weekend. There is no doubt that the responsibilities that come with a job title often mean that you are stressed out, tired, nervous, overwhelmed. This is all normal in certain flows and ebbs. However, what if work is a constant source of stress? What if you don’t feel appreciated for the effort you are giving and feel alone? What if the thought of working is enough to make you break down? I think now more than ever with so much of work being switched over to the remote life, it is very easy to feel disconnected and alone. You may find yourself feeling constantly overwhelmed and underappreciated throughout the day. Work should be an equal balance between hard and pushing out of your comfort zone, but at the same time also feeling like you have the support you need to grow, you can take a break if you need a break, and your mental/emotional health is in check. If it’s not, it may be time to reconsider your current occupation so that these important facets of your health can be honored.
Here are the facets I have found (for me) of a Healthy Work-Life balance:
- You can take breaks when you need breaks.
- You feel supported by your manager and your team.
- You feel connected to a greater purpose, you working is making a difference and impacting at least one person postively.
- You recieve constructive feedback that helps you get better, but also lifts you up.
- You are able to unplug at the end of the day without feeling the need to log back on. You can recharge and refresh, and come back in the next day feeling okay.
- There is room for growth, you are motivated to continue in your role.
Let’s break some of these down, shall we?
Starting with point 1, you need to take breaks. There is no way around this. If you sit at a computer screen the entire day and do not stand up, walk around, drink water, get fresh air, this will have detrimental impacts on your health and research shows this. Sitting for long periods of time is terrible for your health. I highly recommend investing in a standing desk- I have this one which allows my desk to become elevated, and also getting this cushion for your back which will help with your posture even when sitting. Take breaks!!! And if your manager/ higher up doesn’t allow you to take breaks, or you feel like you can’t ask, thats a bad sign. When in doubt ask, and the answer should usually be yes within good judgement. Taking reasonable breaks will allow you to come back breathing easier with a better mindset.
Point 2– Related to point 1, the ideal situation is a healthy relationship between your manager and your team. You should be able to ask for help if you need it and speak up if something is bothering you. Your team should want the best for you and should try and help you and make you feel better or offer to help if you are struggling in a certain area, not try and compete with you or bring you down. If you are a manager, check in with your team! See if they are okay, offer to help with something, ask them questions, get to know them. It makes such a difference.
Point 3– Being motivated when going into work becomes a lot easier when you feel connected to a greater purpose at your company. For me, I am an Onboarding Specialist at HubSpot and I work with clients who have purchased the HubSpot software and are looking for guidance in the first 60-90 days of having the HubSpot tools and getting setup. I feel a sense of purpose in guiding them, and a larger connection with my company’s mission which is to help millions grow better. What is your company’s mission statement? Do you connect with it and believe in it? How does your role contribute to this mission? Trust me, you matter and the work that you do, even if you feel it is insignificant at times, absolutely matters. If you do not feel this way, that is a big problem because even during the hard times at work, you can push through it if you feel connected to the greater purpose and mission.
Point 4- Feedback sessions can be an intimidating thought, and they used to freak me out. However I have grown to really appreciate feedback sessions with my manager. It definitely helps that she is a wonderful, compassionate, caring person who I know wants to see me succeed. The feedback is always delivered in a way where a positive comment is delivered, and then room for improvement is delivered afterwards- an area I could work on or something that I could change. That way I am not crushed by constructive criticsm, I know there are areas where I am doing well, and of course no one is perfect and there is room for improvement. If you were constantly just told things you were good at, that wouldn’t really help you grow, right? Feedback should be given in a direct, honest manner but also in a manner that leaves you feeling positive and motivated instead of shot down and insulted. If the manner in which you are receiving feedback is not working for you, tell your manager! They could be unaware, and having that conversion could help ensure future conversations leave you in a better place. This is a two way relationship, not one way.
Point 5-This one is so important! I am sure I am not the only person guilty of checking my work email /Slack on my phone even after logging off for the day. Try to stay away from this habit. Don’t have Slack/email on your phone, or if you do, disable the notifications once you log off for the day. This will ensure that you are most productive when working, but can also take time off to care for yourself and recharge.
Point 6- Another important point that is worth having a conversation with your manager about as well! Do you plan on being in this position indefinitely or is there a certain title you are ultimately seeking? What are the opportunities for promotion in your current role? Understanding these opportunities and how you can grow into them will help you remain motivated and focus to continue to grow. Don’t just go through the motions, work hard and aim high. Hard work does lead to success, but there isn’t any shortcuts. Speaking generally, people get promoted and end up in high paying jobs because they work their butts off for it and stay focused/dedicated. Don’t lose sight of your vision.
I hope these tips are helpful and get you thinking. What have you seen in your own experience? What tips have you implemented to help with your own work/life balance? I would love to hear from you! Have a great rest of the week 🙂