October 4, 2023

In Search of a Well-Balanced Life

By: Sonya D. Lavett

Along with stress awareness month, April is also work-life enrichment month. Stress seems to play such a major part of a typical American’s daily life, but let’s not focus on stress. Instead, let’s focus on something that drives us to do what we do: enrichment.

What is work-life balance anyway? Most of us wear many hats. Some of us are parents, students and working professionals. Plus, most of us are active in all kinds of activities outside of work. Things like church, hobbies, military commitments, a side business to earn extra income and just running our households consume a lot of our time and energy. Within these many roles, we hope to use our skills and unique talents to the best of our abilities in a way that makes us happy and fulfilled.

Hence the term work-life balance.

To that end, we may either feel satisfied with our lives, or we may feel completely out of balance.

Whether you feel work-life balance or work-life conflict depends on several factors. The demands of each role that we take on, for instance, play a big part in how stressed we are feeling. Our personalities also have a huge impact on our happiness and stress levels. Do the roles we take part in even make us happy to begin with? Probably not all of them, but if you are a working adult, you most likely have accepted that there are certain responsibilities that must be satisfied within your family and at work.

Another factor that determines the happiness or stress we feel in life is whether or not we feel some measure of control over our circumstances. Obviously, the more in-control we feel, the more choices we feel we have. The more choices we have, the less stressed we will be. By the way, how are we coping with all of these roles and responsibilities?

How we view the things we do every day may just be the biggest factor in deciding how we handle the things that come our way.

We all get the same 24 hours each day and 7 days each week. What we choose to dedicate our time to may be the difference in having a good work-life balance or feeling like we’re spread too thinly. If you feel that you are working too much and not enjoying your free time, that’s a great opportunity to find an activity that brings you joy and fulfillment. If time is of the essence, schedule some “fun time” on the calendar and keep that appointment!

Studies have shown when people feel rejuvenated and happy, they are even more productive at work.

One important thing to consider is that work-life balance is constantly changing. It’s okay to have a rough day every now and then. Sometimes things just don’t fall into place, and that’s absolutely normal!

Just like most things, work-life balance is something that has to be maintained constantly. It’s also something that we need to be a little protective of, too. If we simply say “yes” to everything and everyone around us, we will never be able to make time for ourselves. Although it’s not always easy, sometimes saying no is the best thing you can do. This means saying no to your children, your colleagues, your friends and family and sometimes even your boss. (Your boss is just like everyone else! If you tell them the truth, they will usually understand.)

Suppose you work in an environment that doesn’t support a healthy work-life balance? You may have bosses that expect you to work 16-hour days with no rest. Those are warning bells that you might want to look for another job, one that respects your physical and mental health. Plus, no one wants to be around someone who is spread too thinly and stressed out. It’s not attractive or enjoyable for anyone.

Whatever it is that fulfills and enriches your life, make a point to do it often. As adults, we sometimes forget that we still need time for enjoyment, play and even silliness. We all deserve happiness and a full, balanced life. Make April your month to claim it.