Science Says Work-Life Balance Is Crucial For Your Health, So Here's How To Find The Sweet Spot

by Julia Guerra

Did you work late last night? How about the night before? Maybe you’ve spent the last week glued to a textbook, cramming for the exam you’re expecting in your summer course. I’d be lying if I said I’d never been there: spending extra hours at the office, or worse, bringing work home with you to get ahead. There’s nothing wrong with being an overachiever — that is, until overachieving takes over your life. Figuring out how to find balance in your life when adult responsibilities pile on — like looming deadlines and earning class credit — is always important. Of course, no one can fault you for putting in the extra work, but you need to make sure you’re experiencing other parts of life, too, if for nothing else but peace of mind.

I feel like we can thank social media influencers for taking a word like “balance” and redefining it to mean so much more than a physical equilibrium. I know myself, and when I think of “balance,” I think of my favorite wellness bloggers, like Balance With B and Kalyn Nicholson, who encourage their followers to both literally and figuratively stay grounded in all aspects of life, including the foods they eat, and the wellness routines they follow. Having a goal to ~find balance in life~ is kind of trendy at the moment, but on a serious note, it’s definitely something we should all be striving for regardless, because putting too much focus on one area of life could negatively affect your health if you don’t catch on.

If you don’t believe in putting such an emphasis on work-life balance, get this: CNN reports that new research, published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, shows that overworked women have a higher risk for developing diabetes. In other words, women who dedicate more time to their career than, say, to spending time with family, are potentially more likely to deal with health issues like diabetes later in life. The study looked at over 7,000 Canadians over the course of 12 years, and the researchers found that women who regularly work 45 hours or more per week had a whopping 63 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than those who only clock in 35 to 40 hours per week. See, science doesn’t lie, my friend, and those statistics are pretty scary, if you ask me.

Listen, I understand it can be hard to juggle work, school, friends, family, and even self-care, but clearly, this isn't just some pseudo-trend that sounds good on Instagram. Finding balance in your life is not only healthy, it's necessary, so here are a few steps you can take to help you get there.

Leave Work At Work

I know myself, and this is definitely something I've struggled to do, whether I worked in an office or at my dining room table. When you're someone who's passionate about their work, or even when you're working toward a promotion, it can feel almost impossible to totally shut off that side of yourself for a few hours. But believe me when I say it's beyond important to at least try to find a sense of balance here.

According to Erika Martinez, Psy.D., CDWF, a licensed psychologist and founder of Miami Shrinks, in order to truly find balance in life, streamlining is key, especially when it comes to your career. "Find the most efficient way of getting as much work done while at work so you don't have to stay late or take any home with you," she tells Elite Daily.

So maybe that means eating lunch at your desk once in a while to get a little extra work done, or politely excusing yourself from conversations unrelated to work in the office. Make a to-do list and get sh*t done so you don't have to play catch-up on your living room couch later.

Make A Detailed To-Do List

Personally, I'm someone who lives and dies by my planner, and makes to-do lists almost daily. I thrive off schedules and knowing where to be (and when), and while sometimes the key to balance is ditching itineraries, for some people, mapping everything out might be helpful at first. "Sit down on Saturday evening or Sunday morning and map out when you'll accomplish your to-dos (e.g. cooking, laundry, cleaning, exercise, etc.) for the coming week around your responsibilities and social calendar," Martinez tells Elite Daily.

Of course, I can understand how living by routine this way might sound restrictive, but try to think of it less as a list of chores, and more of a guide to remind you to do more than busy your mind with office presentations or book reports.

Clock In At Least Six To Eight Hours Of Sleep Every Night

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, folks: Sleep is, and controls, everything in life, and if you aren't going to bed at or around the same time every night, and getting enough sleep or the best quality of sleep that you can, you're going to feel it.

Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, says getting enough sleep, and optimizing your sleep space, is a key component to achieving life balance. How do the two relate, you ask? Well, when you create a space you feel at ease in and are able to become well-rested in, you reduce your stress levels — and there's no way you can feel a sense of balance if you're freaking out over a project at work or an exam at school.

"Learning to reduce stress in your daily life is essential in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance," Glatter tells Elite Daily. "We all have stress in our lives, and it is nearly impossible to eliminate it altogether. We must use effective tools and techniques to cope with it." In other words, take advantage of that comfy bed, girl. That's what it's there for, after all.

Give Yourself A Social Media Break

When you're hyper-focused on just one aspect of your life like work or school, social media is likely going to be public enemy number one. The whole point of Instagram and Facebook is to post little snippets of the best parts of your life, right? So I'm willing to bet, if you log on and see your best friends raising a glass at happy hour while you're still finishing up at the office — even though you probably should have gone home hours ago — you're likely going to feel pretty crummy, right?

According to Anna Foster, founder and CEO of A Maven's World, when you figure out how to find balance in your life, you'll be in a much better mood. But, in order to do this, you have to slowly take away parts of your routine that cause you stress, and social media can definitely be a huge cause of stress for some people.

Of course, these days, social media is one of those things you can't live with or without, so your best bet, Foster tells Elite Daily, is to take little breaks and log out of Instagram and Twitter for a few hours at a time. That way, you can focus on being present in your life, rather than being a spectator of someone else's.

Make Time For Your Friends And Family

Yes, your career is important, and making the Dean's list at school is ah-mazing, but believe it or not, there are things in life that are more important than your accomplishments — like the moments you spend with friends and family who lift you up and make you laugh.

With that in mind, Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, says the key to finding balance in life is to practice balance — and that means making time for things other than work: "Create a concrete schedule for yourself," Forshee tells Elite Daily. "In the schedule, put down times that you will be going to work, times that you will take for yourself to be alone and do things you prefer to independently do, structure time for family and friends, and structure time for fun and healthy lifestyle habits."

So even if you have a lot on your plate, there's always at least a little bit of time to spare for coffee with a girlfriend, or a phone call to your mom. Trust me, you won't regret taking five for the people who matter most.