Did you realize that some of your current health issues could be a direct result of an unhealthy work-life balance? How are you feeling? Do you often feel stressed or burned out? Are you having chronic aches and pains or digestive problems? Do you have problems sleep- ing, have mood swings, easily tire or are you often irritable? Do you catch colds easily and your medicine doesn’t seem to be giving you much relief? Are you missing too many days of work? Okay, the physical examination is over. If you are suffering from some of the health issues listed above, it could be because you have an unhealthy work-life balance. An unhealthy work-life balance, which causes chronic stress, can also lead to anxiety, hypertension, heart disease and a weakened immune system. As our stress level increases, our productiv- ity decreases and often our body warns us that something is wrong. Our aches and pains are our warnings. You should spend as much time pursuing your hob- bies and interests, and with family and loved ones, as you do working. While a certain amount of stress will keep you productive, our jobs should never take priority over our health. There should be a balance. Wikipedia defines work-life bal- ance as the balance that an individ- ual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life. Even the jobs that we really enjoy can involve stressful situations. We have all probably heard that diamonds are formed under pressure, but we have also all probably heard about the straw that broke the camel’s back. Know when to stop, to cut back or rest. The first thing that you should know is that there is no perfect balance. Strive for a realistic schedule, not a perfect one. The best work-life schedule will vary amongst individuals because of differ- ent priorities and different lives. The right balance for a single person will be different for a married person. Your health should be your main priority. An unhealthy employee is a less productive employee. Your work should be something that you enjoy. If you hate your job, you aren’t going to be happy. This will affect you at work and at home and there is absolutely no balance in this scenario. You don’t have to like every aspect of your job, but you shouldn’t dread coming to work every day. If your job is draining you, it may be time to find a new one. To attain a work-life balance you must learn to “unplug.” Maintain control of your calendar and do not over commit. Learn to say no. Don’t overschedule yourself with time consuming, unfulfill- ing activities. You have to be able to sever your ties with the outside world from time to time. This can be ten minutes of meditation or a nice relaxing vacation. There have to be times when you can shut work out completely. Fo- cus and participate in things that relax you. This means you must make time for yourself. Take a walk in the park, get a massage or take a long, hot bath. These can all be relaxing. Spend quality time with family and friends. A healthy work-life balance has also been defined as the daily balance of achievement and enjoyment. Achieve- ment is usually associated with work, while enjoyment is associated with your activities away from work. This involves setting manageable goals daily. You should be able to realize some achieve- ment and enjoyment each and every day. There will seldom be a perfect balance, as stated earlier, but it should be noticeable if you set manageable goals. It can be a single activity giving you both achievement and enjoyment which is ideal. If the term “work-life bal- ance” sounds too much like work, think achievement and enjoyment. Sources: Work-Life Balance Defined Worklifebalance.com Jim Bird, Publisher 5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today By Sammi Caramela Work Life Balance MentalHealthAmerica.net 5 Work-Life Balance By: Bill Brazley, Human Resources Director