Work, family, friends, hobbies – we only feel good when all areas of our life are balanced. Are you satisfied with your work-life balance? Tips, a quick check and suggestions for achieving balance.
Work-life balance refers to a state in which your work and personal life are in alignment. Although the term is well-established, it is not undisputed: the contrast drawn between work and life suggests that real life takes place outside of work. This is why the Swiss Health Promotion Foundation , for example, refers instead to "life-domain balance". The goal is to foster all life domains and strengthen personal resources.
Balance is key to our well-being. We need free time for personal interests, social contacts and relaxation. But there is no perfect relationship between work and personal life. It has to do with an individual feeling: when we find that our lifestyle works for us and isn't a burden.
When we lose our balance, everyday life becomes difficult. Over time, this leads to physical and mental illness: cardiovascular diseases, depression, burnout, anxiety disorders, stroke. Imbalance may also be indicated by sleep problems, headache and back pain, or stomach troubles. Don't take such symptoms too lightly. Talk to your doctor about this.
Quick check of your work-life balance
Signs of an imbalance are:
- The feeling of never having enough time
- Major pressure and stress
- Good relationships or a partnership are neglected
- Psychosomatic problems such as headache, stomach troubles and back pain
- Sense of inner emptiness and meaninglessness
- Changes in personal behaviour (e.g. irritability, cynicism, forgetfulness, withdrawal)
It's not always easy to bring work and personal life into alignment. If we work too much, we don't have enough time for our partners, family and sport. But if we always stop work punctually, we may leave tasks unfinished and jeopardise deadlines. However, no one can do everything at once, or meet all expectations, whether their own or those of others. Under pressure, most people tend to focus more on their job. We struggle to change aspects of our daily working life in this way. It's much easier to blow off sport training or postpone the evening at the cinema. This may work in the short term. But those who push forward under chronic stress and do not have balance in the form of social contacts and other relaxing activities will see their performance decline, and their life outside work will also suffer.
Success and well-being don't have to be mutually exclusive if we set priorities, plan both our tasks and free time, share our duties, and learn the very important lesson of how to handle stress positively. These seven coping strategies will help you achieve this. Targeted relaxation methods also enhance the sense of inner balance.
Work-life blending: mixing work and free time
Flexibility and mobility are a big part of today's working world. New technologies and working-time models allow us to work anywhere and anytime. Almost every third person in Switzerland works from a home office, according to a study on the workplace of the future. This means that the boundaries between work and private life are becoming less clear, in a trend referred to as work-life blending. Employees benefit from more freedom, self-determination and motivation. Private appointments can be handled during working time, and the lost hours made up in the evening. This supports the reconciliation of career and family, and enables greater productivity – it's well-known that the best ideas don't necessarily come to us at work.
Mindfulness is becoming a core competence
The freedom thus obtained is not a blessing for everyone. It calls for strong self-management skills and mindful consideration of one's own well-being so that work doesn't encroach on free time. Today's working models, such as teleworking or a home office, require trust between employers and employees, as well as the clear arrangement and definition of mutual expectations. It is necessary to recognize and set one's own boundaries, and to remain flexible in the face of dynamic life circumstances and conditions.
True free time instead of free-time stress
Free time is not always relaxing. There is "true" free time and "pseudo-" free time. The latter might consist of housework, doctor's visits, bureaucracy, and familial and social duties. Pseudo-free time is externally determined. This does not really allow us to relax. So, make sure that you always plan some activities that you really enjoy in your free time. Don't over-programme your weekend. Sometimes it's better to lounge than have free-time stress.