Thursday, January 6, 2011

Daily Grind or Work-life Balance - It's Your Choice!

Daily our lives are filled with a variety of personal, family-related and professional responsibilities and obligations. Most people are successful in developing strategies to manage the repetitive aspects of their every day routines – or "the daily grind".

It's the unexpected events and/or last minute demands in our lives that seem to catch many of us off guard and that influence our ability to deal with them effectively.

There are a number of strategies that can help individuals better cope with the psychological and physical impacts of their life/work stressors. Preventative strategies, such as exercise, balanced diet, relaxation, deep breathing, and adequate sleep build our resilience to stress. In fact, it has been shown that adopting a healthier and more active lifestyle works.

Other coping strategies, including assuming a more positive and realistic outlook on life demands and seeking social support, have also proven to be beneficial in managing stress.

I believe that our ultimate goal is to lead a happier and more meaningful life. For many, this begins by tackling the numerous life stressors first and by attempting to achieve work-life balance.

As a psychologist and a wellness coach, I notice that many individuals adopt unrealistic and/or inaccurate views of what adequate work-life balance means. Over the years, I have come to the realization that many of those who strive the most to attain the "right' balance seem to believe that they must also have busy out-of work routines that run parallel with their busy work lives. Among these types of individuals are professional couples who will have demanding workloads – they often will make sure that they (and their kids) are involved in several time demanding activities or sports. In many of these cases, the most important thing missing from their typical week is rest. Over time, fatigue and even exhaustion sets in and family members start having a harder and harder time keeping up with the numerous demands placed upon them.

In other words, having true work-life balance does not mean having both busy work and personal routines. To regain or to attain balance, some may need to focus on reducing their workloads while others may have to start leading less (or more) active personal lives.

This is the first in a series of brief articles I will be writing on attaining general wellness. As a psychologist, I am curious to know what strategies have worked for you in trying to achieve better work-life balance. Please share with us any tips you may have or any challenges you have been struggling with. Let's begin the discussion!

Yaniv M. Benzimra, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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