The pressure of an increasingly demanding workplace culture is one of the biggest risks to mental health. The human costs of unmanaged work-related stress extends beyond having time out of work and can ultimately lead to loss of life.  A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.

Step 1: Recognise the signs of an unhealthy work-life balance

There are many signs that can indicate a poor work-life balance and can include:

  • You feel unhappy about the time you devote to work
  • You are neglecting other aspects of your life because of work
  • You find yourself thinking and worrying about work outside of working hours
  • You notice that you are always in pain; chronic headaches/neck pain may be a sign of strain.
  • You are not sleeping well, and having nightmares particularly about work
  • You always feel tired and persistent fatigue.
  • Your patience is wearing think, you feel frustrated with others and are losing your temper
  • You can remember the last time you relaxed or enjoyed yourself
  • Your personal relationships are struggling
  • Your personal and professional space is a mess
  • You are engaging in unhelpful ways to manage your food e.g. drinking more alcohol

Step 2: Help Yourself

Creating a work-life balance involves adjusting your day-to-day activities to achieve a sense of balance between your work life and personal life. Balancing the demands of a busy lifestyle is not an easy thing to do, but is best managed by regularly reviewing and assessing your priorities.

  • Take personal responsibility; speak up when work expectations and demands are too much.
  • Prioritise your workload and manage your time; try not to get caught up in unproductive activities that take you off task.
  • Take regular breaks, although it may feel counterintuitive taking breaks allows you to work in a more focused way.
  • Draw a line between work life and home life. If you are working from home to try to only work in one area of your home – preferably somewhere you and can close the door on it.
  • Recognise the importance of protective factors, including exercise, leisure activities and friendships. Try not to sacrifice these for work.
  • Be mindful of the cumulative effect of working long hours by keeping track of your working hours over a period of weeks or months rather than days.
  • Book in annual leave, taking time out after busy times can help refuel and rebalance your time.
  • Manage stress effectively; stress, mental exhaustion and burnout affects your ability to work productively
  • Enlist a good support system—learn to delegate, we all need a little help sometimes
  • Balance the different types of work you do.
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