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Avoid stress: Get the work/ life balance right

Stress-related leave costs the British economy £7bn a year.
More than half of workers suffer from stress and a third admit to falling asleep at their desks, according to surveys. If this sounds like you – and your work/life balance is 90/10 – the break over Christmas is the perfect time to address your life. Make a new year’s resolution to have some more ‘me’ time, while still proving yourself in your career. Finding a way to juggle a job and a wholesome life is not as impossible as it may seem.

Knowing when to stop

Careers psychologist, Sherridan Hughes, says the problem with many people is that “we just don’t know when to stop working”.

She adds: “I had a client who took his laptop with him on his honeymoon and needless to say, his wife wasn’t pleased.”

The days of leaving work in the office are long-gone. Laptops, Blackberrys and iPhones have ushered us into a 24-hour working day.

Putting in the hours

A third of workers are putting in more hours each week than the 48-hour suggested maximum by EU directives, the International Stress Management Association found.

But it has come at a price. Stress-related leave costs the British economy £7bn a year, with one in four workers taking time off to recover from stress-related illness. “Compounding that is the fear that, in this economic climate, is that if we don’t bend over backwards at work, we’ll lose our jobs,” says Hughes.

The perfect job

If you are well-matched to your job and actually thoroughly enjoy it, then there’s probably no real need for self-examination. But, Hughes says, if you’re not that fortunate, then the emphasis needs to be on your life outside of your job.

“Some people are dynamos who are energised by obstacles and pressures at work and are happy to be social all day at work as well as all evening,” she explains.

“However, there are those that talk all day to people and just want to go home, open a book and shut the world out.”

If this seems familiar, at least make sure you wait until you get home.

More than 10 per cent of workers surveyed by Sudafed, admitted to snoring at their desks at work and 16 per cent have even caught themselves dribbling.

Take a break already

If you’re feeling stressed and tired at work, schedule in some time off – it will do you, and your colleagues, the world of good.

“Doing exercise, mediation, relaxation, just getting out to get some fresh air, or even taking up a hobby, like painting, can be therapeutic. Some people enjoy pounding the pavement for a release,” Hughes says. She also recommends laughter. “Go and see a comedian, or do something ridiculous.

"Laughter is surefire therapy,” she adds.

How to find a balance

Adopt a 9-5 mentality
Get all the work you want or need done in this timeframe and be disciplined. The feeling of waltzing out the door every day of the week when the shift is up, to have a life, will be incredibly satisfying.

Small changes
Making an overhaul of your work-and- life balance can seem like a huge task, so it’s best done at a sustainable pace.

Pick a small thing that you can change such as committing to getting out of work on time once a week. Once you’ve achieved this, move on to something bigger and enjoy a balanced life. The other benefits will come rolling in.

Get enough sleep
You’re in dangerous territory if you are consistently sacrificing sleep for work. It’s not worth the damage to your health. So, try to schedule in a full eight hours at least one night a week. It’ll make a marked difference to the other four days.

Work smarter
Take a look at your workload and see if there are any processes that can change to get things done quicker and more efficiently. Try to multi-task or be better at prioritising.

Regiment your calendar
It’s not ideal, but if you have to regiment your social life, then do it. Perhaps you can schedule in a drink with your friends every second Thursday or theatre each Tuesday, or even a walk/run on certain days each week.

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