The phrase work/life balance has been around for a long time now, yet we still don’t really pay it enough attention. For many people nowadays, it means trying to take their holiday entitlement and occasionally getting home at a reasonable hour. Yet it means so much more than this.
Yes, it does mean that working all the hours God sends is not good for your health and well-being – or your productivity! It is important to get away from work and take a break. Yet often we only use this time to do more ‘work’ – the household chores, ferrying children to and from activities, making sure we visit family. That is not balance, that is doing two or more jobs!
We find balance when our life outside work takes us out of work mode, so that we satisfy other aspects of who we are. If we do physical work at work, maybe we need something mentally stimulating in our life outside work. If work is very analytical or logical, maybe we need to do something with the creative part of our mind outside work. If work is stressful, we need things that relax us – the list goes on!
Many of us have an over-emphasis on one aspect of who we are through our work, and leave other aspects untapped and unused. Yet all of us are a mixture of characteristics, which need to be used for us to feel whole and satisfied. Research clearly shows that those who use a mixture of their characteristics are far more likely to stay physically and mentally healthy than those who are over-using one part of themselves.
And remember that being creative doesn’t have to be ‘artistic’: it could be cooking a different meal, or re-arranging a room in your house. Similarly, doing something physical doesn’t have to be exercise in the gym: it could be gardening or going for a walk in the park.
What does matter is that we engage in activities that use a different part of our mind and give us a different sense of satisfaction.
This isn’t about having to do yet more in your busy life, it’s about feeding your soul, growing into who you really are. However much we love our work, we all need to expand into a life beyond work, rather than just do what needs to be done and then get back to work.
So go on, bake that cake, arrange the lunch with friends, go for that walk, increase that balance in your life!