Sometimes you may feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Balancing work and family life can be a struggle. You may have to stay late in the office and end up missing your child’s baseball game. The pressure continues to build: you feel torn between your employer and your family relationships.
In order to achieve a healthy work/life routine, you may need to get professional help and counseling. Scott & White’s David Blackburn, PhD specializes in adult mental health and daily sees people who struggle with this optimal balance.
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Work/Life Balance
Life is Visually Unbalanced
One tip Dr. Blackburn gives is to map out your time on a pie chart. This can be a good warning sign to see if you’ve taken things too far. Everyone has the same hours each week, and as you allocate how many hours a day you spend doing certain activities, you may be able to see the problem more clearly.
Seeking Avoidance Behaviors
When we become overwhelmed, we often seek an “escape” of some sort. For some people this can mean drugs, alcohol, improper sleep, pornography, video games, shopping or other activities. It can be anything to numb our mind in order to avoid the problem at hand.
If you have an unhealthy life/work balance, you may feel that reality is too painful.
Dr. Blackburn says some people think to themselves, “If I can’t do it all perfectly, then I won’t do anything at all. It’s an either/or type of thinking.”
If you find you are often down, depressed, sad or blue, you may have an unhealthy work/life balance in the opposite way. You may not be working enough, or finding valuable or pleasurable ways to spend your time.
Dr. Blackburn says these people shut themselves out from the world, tend to have sleep problems, avoid social interactions and may feel guilty for their idleness. They may also have problems with concentration and/or decision making or feel they cause problems for others due to low self-worth.
“As a result, they become even more depressed,” he adds. To fight back, he suggests volunteering or finding other meaningful ways to make better use of your time and lighten your spirit.
If you find yourself in an unhappy marriage, you may feel tempted to escape the real world by filling it with work. You’re staying late in the office because you don’t want to face home life. You may feel pressure to stay in the marriage due to children or providing for your family. Although it is beneficial to stay committed, this is an unhealthy way to handle your relationships. Rather, it’s best to seek help.
Family members, friends or even your boss can help encourage you to seek counseling to work through these problems in a balanced way. They may kindly tell you that you need to talk to someone.
Remember, if you know someone who is struggling try to keep an open mind. It can be difficult to hear about their problems at work without belaboring the issue or trying to fix the problem. Be supportive and offer gentle guidance.
“My role is to help people recognize what they’re doing and what they’re willing to change,” says Dr. Blackburn. “If they recognize the disadvantages of their avoidance or unhealthy work/life balance, and they see that it can be done in a better way, we can work towards those changes.”
Signs You May Need Help
- Your partner feels like a single parent
- You spending too much time alone
- You look for ways to escape
- Your boss mentions your hard work is appreciated but it may be too much for you
- You fail to take holidays, vacation, or other time off from work
- You avoiding situations at home
- You bring your work home
- You miss family activities due to work
- Your schedule is unbalanced
- You feel moody, irritable, or tired due to lack of sleep or sleeping too much
“I would imagine there are a number of people that have a lack of work/life balance who never see a psychologist or psychotherapist,” says Dr. Blackburn. “They keep going through the motions and they may feel stuck in a rut.”
What to Do to Achieve Work/Life Balance
In order to combat this problem, consider these tips to help you get out of the rut:
- Don’t underestimate the power of sleep: not too little or too much
- Build in structured family time: put in on your calendar
- Communicate openly your stresses at work with your spouse or familly
- Find time to meditate daily
- Plan out your week with your family
- Remember that exercise is vital, especially if you spend a great deal of time with technology
- Get professional help to set and achieve work/life balance goals’