Balance has become such a trendy phrase across the health and wellness space over the last few years that I sometimes catch myself wondering if millennials should consider copyrighting the term. But if you really stop to think about all the everyday demands #adulting thrusts upon you — from pressing deadlines at work, to pages-long class assignments, making time for your loved ones, let alone making time to breathe — couldn’t you benefit from figuring out ways to improve work-life balance? Couldn’t everyone?
Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines “balance” as a “mental and emotional steadiness” that comes from the “stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis.” So imagine your life is a seesaw on the playground. On one end, you have your job. On the other, your personal life: the time you spend on friends, family, and yourself. It’s not always easy to put equal amounts of weight on both ends of the beam, and when one takes precedence, the other tends to suffer — sometimes in ways you don't even realize.
"Too much of something gets monotonous, which can leave us feeling disengaged, disconnected, unfulfilled, and just rather lopsided," Erika Martinez, Psy.D., CDWF, licensed psychologist and founder of Miami Shrinks, tells Elite Daily. "In turn, feeling like this, if left unchecked, can turn into disease, whether physical disease (e.g. upset stomach, indigestion, headaches/migraines, high blood pressure, etc.) or emotional ones (e.g. panic attacks, anxiety, depression)."
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with putting in a little extra time at the office if you’re striving toward a promotion, or taking on extra credit assignments to boost your grade. That being said, though, it’s important to make time for yourself and your needs in order to feel satisfied across all aspects of life. You can do this through establishing balance, and to help you along, I reached out to a few experts to share their best tips, so you can improve your own work-life balance ASAP.
Personally, I've always been a workaholic, and once I started working from home, it became almost impossible for me to separate work life from home life because, technically, the two were one and the same. Establishing boundaries is key to keeping your professional life from overlapping with your personal time, and one of the best ways to do this, says Jon Staff, co-founder and CEO of wellness-focused travel company Getaway, is to stop checking your email after-hours.
"If you can get over the irony of using tech to keep you off of tech, I personally like DNDEmail," Staff recommends. "[The app] holds my incoming email so I’m not attached to my notifications during off-hours."
Even if you loathe deadlines, time management is such an important skill to have. Setting parameters for yourself keeps you accountable, so even if your term paper isn't due until Friday, if you make a plan that Monday and Tuesday you'll focus on research, Wednesday and Thursday you'll focus on writing the draft, you'll feel prepared come Friday morning when all that's left is a quick read-through for edits. Time really is of the essence, but managing it doesn't have to feel so daunting.
"Often, poor prioritization creates burnout," Dereck Tatman, PhD, president and COO of telehealth platform AristaMD, tells Elite Daily. "Look into how to better prioritize responsibilities, or a project management platform," he suggests.
Some people like to keep their work life and their personal life separate, and that's OK, but according to Tatman, blurring the lines a little bit — even if that means just opening up about your interests outside the office — can make any extra time you have to spend at work a little more enjoyable.
"Lines between work and life are increasingly blurred and work is part of one’s life just as life is part of one’s work," Tatman tells Elite Daily. "Chances are, you will not only enjoy spending time with, but also work more productively with colleagues who you know as a person — what they do at work, but also their interests in life."
Last but not least, never underestimate the power of fresh air, my friends. I know myself, and if I'm trapped inside all day, I start to feel antsy and unsatisfied because I feel like I'm stuck in the same spot, doing the same types of things. According to Staff, simple habits like taking a walk outside on your lunch break, or suggesting that your one-on-one with a colleague be a walking meeting instead of sitting inside a stuffy conference room, can be huge game-changers.
"Beyond the physical, though, those moments in nature — like walks on leaves or listening to waves crash against the beach — are shown to be instances where our best thinking happens," Staff tells Elite Daily. "So if you’re having trouble thinking of a good reason to prioritize your work-life balance beyond physical hardship, know that giving yourself that balance may just make you a more creative thinker when you need to be."