Do you find yourself checking emails at night, finishing reports at the weekend or staying in the office long after everyone has left? Work could be taking over your life.
Long hours, cutbacks and changing technology mean we’re all working that little bit harder these days and it can be difficult – some would say impossible - to find a healthy work/life balance.
Yet for the sake of our health it’s essential that we do. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that long working hours led 27 per cent of employees to feel depressed; 34 per cent to feel anxious; and 58 per cent to be irritable.
What’s more, almost two thirds of employees have experienced a negative effect on their personal lives due to long working hours.
So what can you do about it? How can you achieve a healthy work/life balance without letting your work suffer?
1. Speak up
It is Ok to speak up when you feel you are being overworked. Employers need to be made aware when a workload is too much for an employee. What’s more, they will respect you all the more for it.
2. Get off Facebook
It’s easy to get caught up in unproductive tasks like trawling through photographs on Facebook when in fact you have a million and one things to do. Instead, stay focused, ignore social media unless it’s essential to your job, prioritise tasks and allow yourself a certain time to do each one.
3. Make a cup of tea
It’s more than Ok to take a break from time to time. So don’t feel guilty when you leave your desk to make a cup of tea. In fact, by taking regular breaks throughout the day you’ll find you approach each task with more energy and clarity of mind.
4. Turn off your phone at home
It’s important to draw a clear line between your work and home life. If you find you’re taking work phone calls or answering emails from home, simply turn your phone off.
It’s important that you associate home with relaxing and switching off. Otherwise you never get a break – and work in the long run suffers.
5. Sweat out your stress
It may be tempting to avoid the gym after a long and stressful day at work, but ironically exercise is the perfect antidote to work stress. Not only will it benefit you physically, but exercise triggers the brain to releases endorphins – chemicals which improve your mood, making you feel energised, relaxed and providing you with improved concentration for work the next day.
6. Make time to relax
Downtime should not be something you factor into your life once you’re on top of your work.
It is in fact essential to your wellbeing – allowing you to unwind, recharge and work better in the long run.
Whether it is spending time with your family, playing sport with your friends or getting a manicure – prioritise your downtime.
7. Talk to your Colleagues
If possible, assess your work/life balance with your colleagues and when necessary with managerial staff. The more visible the process, the more likely it is to have an effect.