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How to Find Work Life Balance during a Recession

Sun, 11/11/2012 - 9:10pm | by Guest Contributor

The path to personal health and wellness isn’t always clear.  And there are going to be plenty of obstacles in your way, most of which you will only spot in the rearview mirror.  The major problem faced by most professional women these days is trying to strike a balance between work, which is essential for survival, and their everyday lives, which often get lost somewhere along the way as “more important things” take over.  And the fact that we’re all working extra hard to stave off the effects of the recession is not helping.  People who are afraid of facing unemployment are going to do extra (even if it doesn’t result in extra rewards) as a way to ensure that they don’t find themselves standing in line for a handout.  But of course, life gets pretty dull when all you do is work.

For this reason, it’s important to take extra care in balancing out your life.  If not, you could be facing all kinds of problems that you never anticipated.  The most easily recognizable is burnout.  All of us have our limits and by tipping the scales strongly in favor of work you are no doubt flirting with your own.  Soon you’ll start skipping the activities you enjoy because you’re too tired.  You won’t make time for working out or seeing your friends like you used to.  Then you’ll become weary and fatigued.  You may suffer insomnia, weight gain, and even depression, amongst other symptoms.  At the very least, your life will become a pretty big drag (and at worst you could face serious illness).  Then your performance at work will start to suffer.  No doubt you can see where this is going.  Without balancing out your work and your personal life you’ll soon start to look like a stranger to yourself and everyone who knows you.

But what can you do to stop this unwanted metamorphosis?  The answer is going to sound simple, but it’s anything but; you have to budget your time as though it were your finances.  You have to make a conscious decision not to work overtime and to leave your work where it belongs: at the office.  No late nights, no weekends, no checking your phone and your email when you’re off the clock, and NO EXCUSES!  Think about it this way; employment is like a contract where you agree to work and your employer agrees to pay you.  That’s it – that’s the whole contract.

You do not agree to give up the rest of your life (which, by the way, you’re working to enjoy) any more than your employer agrees to give you a say in how the company is run, for example.  There may be rare occasions when you are called upon to give more, as in a crisis situation, but on average you should not be working a ton of extra hours simply because the company doesn’t want to hire more people (why should they when you’re more than willing to take on the work of many for the pay of one?).

Finding a work life balance is not easy; in fact, it can be extremely difficult to tell your employers “no” and then stick to your guns, especially in a recession, when there are a hundred people just waiting to take your job.  But it is necessary if you want your life to be worthwhile.  Sacrificing your health (mental and physical) in the pursuit of a job just isn’t worth the price.

Do what you can to ensure that there is a balance between the time you spend at work and the time you spend on living.

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