Americans are more stressed out than ever and the pressures and tensions experienced in everyday life are causing higher rates of mental health issues, chronic illness and life-threatening events such as heart attacks. The 2015 Stress in America report by the American Psychological Association found nearly one-third of adults said stress negatively impacted their physical or mental health in a significant way, about five percentage points higher than in 2014. The report states money and work remain the top two sources of significant stress. Fostering a healthy work-life balance needs to be a priority to keep stress levels down, which in turn keeps medical costs low and positively affects those you interact with, such as family members.
With work to do, families to take care of, health issues to deal with and seemingly never enough time to enjoy hobbies, acknowledging the need for a work-life balance is the first meaningful step to achieving one. Here are some tips for making the most of both worlds to lead a healthier and happier life.
Let Technology Assist You
Americans are interacting with their smartphones more than ever and the number is only expected to increase. If you’re not moderating the time you spend on them, you can disrupt your work-life balance. Time magazine reports Americans look at their phones an average of 46 times per day, up from 33 times in 2014. If you’re browsing social media when you could be finishing a work project, the amount of time it takes to complete an assignment could increase exponentially as your attention is constantly diverted. Using a security suite application like the Samsung Knox, available on a device like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, allows you to separate work from playful distractions since you can toggle between the standard mode and a separate secure container just for running work applications. The Flipd and Freedom apps also allow you to block specific apps during select periods of time.
If you use a wearable device such as a Fitbit Alta, you can get reminders every hour to walk around so you don’t remain sedentary throughout the day. Use your hourly walks to get some fresh air outside, catch up with a friend for a short chat or listen to your favorite music for an instant mood boost.
Care for Your Body
Those who claim eating healthily and exercising are impossible to fit into a daily schedule are only resigning themselves to an increased likelihood of developing disorders like Type 2 Diabetes, worsening their blood pressure and susceptibility to heart attacks and decreasing their life expectancy. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition projects that, by 2030, half of American adults will be obese. Stanford Health Care reports people who are obese or even overweight are significantly more likely to develop heart disease and bone and joint diseases than those who are not. Health conditions such as these negatively impact the possibility of a healthy work-life balance because of increased medical bills, the negative impact on the ability to work, increased time spent in hospitals and doctors offices and decreased time spent on hobbies and with loved ones. If your health is not a top priority, you increase the likelihood of more stressors in your life.
Besides taking care of yourself physically through regular exercise and balanced nutrition, improve how your mental health affects your work-life balance by proactively paying attention to the impact it has on your moods and actions and by working to make it more positive. The University of Michigan recommends taking the following steps:
- Working on self-confidence by learning new skillsand engaging in hobbies
- Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you
- Quieting the mind through activities such as meditation
If you work for an employer who demands so much of your time that you are not able to nurture the spiritual and personal aspects of your life, it is vital to examine your goals in life and how your current career works to support them. If you enjoy your job, talking with a supervisor about how certain aspects can help you improve your work there—such as the ability to work remotely part of the time or set your own schedule—can help you achieve the personal goals to sustain a better work-life balance.