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Is Stress Making Your Work-Life Balance An Illusive Unicorn?
She said she was stressed. That was why she responded to her work colleague with the force of an angry bee. Her words stung and now she is cleaning up the emotional mess she made, but not after some damage was done to her career advancement goals.
He defaulted to his high control fear reaction during the team meeting. When suggestions came forward about a project he wanted launched that warned of complications, he shut the conversation down. It was shameful, actually. It reinforced the notion that the managers in the company have the skill sets of Tasmanian Devils. The company executives were exploring retention problems and his performance was highlighted. Yes. He was stressed and now even more so.
You probably have stories, about great people derailing because of stress. So, what do you do about stressful, lopsided work-life balance that is often as illusive as a unicorn but often leads to career destructive incidents?
Team Building strategies for encouraging and attaining work-life balance and integration in the workplace.
You’ve heard it talked about in meetings or absentmindedly mentioned in passing, but what exactly is work-life balance and why is it important to your workplace team development strategies? Work-life balance is the relationship between the time you spend working and the time you spend on other life commitments, such as family, personal goals and reducing stress in your life. Work-life integration is taking that balance and desire for balance into a fully integrated and life affirming work-life.
How your work and life commitment are affected by one another and how well you feel juggling everything determines your work-life balance and whether this is integratable. It’s important to note that work-life balance does not necessarily mean that all of your commitments will receive equal time or attention. This view is unrealistic, as circumstances, expectations, and your enthusiasm levels are constantly changing in the real world. How you handle your commitments and workplace stress management and resulting impacts is where balance and integration comes in.
When work-life balance and stress management become a problem, many promising careers get short circuited by how you respond to challenges and confrontations in the workplace when you are off balance. Failure to respond well can mean being looked over for promotions or confirming workplace bias that confirms that women are too emotional or men lack emotional intelligence, which subverts your career goals.
There are many team development strategies that you can implement in your daily life to improve work-life balance and stress management. Consider implementing some of the following workplace team development strategies to encourage and sustain work-life balance.
Strengthen Your Brain.
Your brain controls every aspect of your life, from how you feel on a daily basis to how you handle adversity and challenges. The first step to a healthy brain is to eat right and exercise, and taking some time for yourself to recharge your creativity.
Slamming down doughnuts with a pot of coffee for breakfast and a couple of candy bars for lunch gives me the jitters just thinking about it. Eating a balanced diet full of vital nutrients gives your brain the fuel it needs to function properly, and it helps to regulate your mood and emotions.
Exercising your body is also important for your mind because it releases endorphins, which reduces the perception of pain and increases positive feelings. This helps you to relax more when you are away from work and to perform better when you are at work.
An excellent resource for other exercises and activities for strengthening the brain and how to use these methods to reduce stress and maximize life balance is the Melting Your Stress within 30 Days executive stress management program. This is a program that is available both for self-study and as a training program for employees in the workplace.
Carve Out Personal Time.
In a busy and ever-changing world, finding some time for yourself can prove to be challenging, especially for those with a lot on their plate at home and at work. This is especially true of women who find themselves as both head of household and caring for parents and elderly relatives.
Time for yourself is not just beneficial for home life; it can actually help you to move forward in business as well. Some effective strategies for carving out some personal time include meditating, doing something just for yourself such as getting a massage, or taking a (real) break rather than checking email by getting out for a fast walk during the work day or fly-fishing. For me, it is fluffing my garden or putting in a fast 3 mile walk.
Doing something just for yourself doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Listen to music you enjoy or take a trip to a massage therapist for a relaxing therapeutic massage. And last, take a break. Many times, people view a break as an opportunity to multitask, but they miss the opportunity to relax. Fully step away from what is stressful and take the time you deserve to decompress. When you do take some time to yourself, you will likely find that you perform better at work and are better equipped to handle the day.
Get Enough Sleep.
Around 16 percent of the US population has difficulty falling or staying asleep, which increases stress levels and decreases work effectiveness. A lack of sleep can prove to be extremely detrimental to your health and productivity. To combat insomnia or an inability to sleep, turn off the computer, cell phone and TV at least a hour before bedtime. The blue light produced by their screens disrupts sleep patterns. Instead take a warm bath or spend an hour reading something uplifting or become mindful of what went well for you during the day. These relaxing strategies help to circumvent worry and anxiety which often accompanies not falling asleep right away.
Another strategy is to fight sleep. This seems counter intuitive, but when you tell yourself that you need to stay awake, and you try to keep your eyes open, sleep will likely take over and win. Another strategy is to imagine the worst-case scenarios of what would happen if you didn’t get any sleep. Think of absurd and silly scenarios to take away your anxiety. Doing this also keeps you from focusing on negative thoughts. Remaining mindful is also an effective strategy for sleep. Focus on your breathing, and as thoughts come into your mind, let them drift away without dwelling on them. Disconnect from your thoughts so your brain can relax for sleep.
Work-life balance that fully integrates with your work seems like a mythical unicorn to many people who are striving to recover from the “Recession” and working hard to get ahead. Finding a balance in one area of your life can be overwhelming, let alone finding balance across the board. But work-life balance should be seen as an important goal for workers to achieve, because when workers lead fulfilling lives outside of work, they are better prepared to handle the challenges of their work lives. Some strategies for attaining work-life balance include strengthening your brain, carving out some time for yourself, getting enough sleep and managing your stress level. When you focus on your health and well being, you are likely to be successful in many different areas of your life including career and business growth advancement.
Here are a few resources that take this conversation deeper:
Guest post by Dianne Crampton, Founder TIGERS Success Series, Inc.
About TIGERS Success Series, Inc.
TIGERS Success Series is a Bend, Oregon Leadership and Team Development Consultant that helps leaders build more cooperation among employees and collaboration between departments for improved revenue, growth, purpose and impact.