In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, many of us find ourselves caught in a never-ending cycle of work, leaving little time for personal pursuits and self-care. However, there’s a direct correlation between work-life balance and mental health. Failing to create a healthy separation between the two can take a serious toll leading to increased stress, burnout, and decreased overall well-being. Learn how to realistically strike a balance between mental health and your career in 5 easy steps. 

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance involves maintaining an equilibrium between the demands of your job and personal life. Maintaining work-life balance involves setting healthy boundaries to avoid being all-consumed by one’s career and making time for the people, responsibilities, and hobbies that are important to you.  

What equilibrium looks like entirely depends on the individual. It does not necessarily mean equal time devoted to work and personal life but rather finding harmony that allows individuals to thrive in both areas. People in different stages of their lives will have different demands on their time and therefore will have differing capacities to devote to their career. There’s no set formula for what this balance looks like, it’s up to each person to determine what feels right.

Signs of a lack of work-life balance: 

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • decreased productivity
  • Irritable, 
  • Lack of enthusiasm for activities outside of work.
  • neglecting personal relationships
  • A constant sense of pressure or feeling overwhelmed

5 Ways to Maintain Work-Life Balance

Achieving work-life balance is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires conscious effort, self-reflection, and a commitment to making small daily changes. Make sure to regularly assess your priorities and make adjustments as needed.

1. Set boundaries

Clearly defining your working hours and personal time and communicating these boundaries to your colleagues and loved ones is essential. 

  • Learn to say no to tasks that do not align with your priorities. 
  • Delegate tasks whenever possible. 
  • Don’t respond to work emails after the end of the work day.
  • Fully unplug yourself when you’re on vacation. 

Stay consistent with these boundaries and you’ll likely find that your coworkers will adjust their behaviors accordingly, allowing for greater control over your time and your mindset.

2. Utilize technology to your advantage

Technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to work-life balance. It allows us to be connected to everyone at all times which can make us more productive but also blur the edges between work and home life. One of the greatest benefits of technology for work-life balance is providing the capability to work remotely, but that’s not always feasible. Some other ways you can use tech to maintain work-life balance are:

  • Set do-not-disturb status on messaging apps, calendars, or your phone (or better yet, automate when the status is set)
  • Hold meetings virtually instead of in person
  • Have separate mobile phones or laptops for personal and professional use
  • Virtual therapy makes mental health care easily accessible — you could even do it during your lunch break

3. Have a dedicated work area

Balancing work and personal life can be especially hard for remote workers whose home doubles as their office. Without a commute, the physical departure that traditionally marks the end of the workday, it’s very common for teleworkers to work beyond normal work hours. To emulate this separation, create a dedicated workspace in the home, ideally, one that’s outside of the bedroom (to avoid a place of rest being associated with productivity or stress.) 

4. Prioritize self-care

One of the key components of achieving work-life balance and nurturing mental health is prioritizing self-care. This involves setting aside dedicated time for activities that promote relaxation and happiness. Replenish your energy by meditating, exercising, and getting adequate sleep. Boost your mood and happiness by pursuing hobbies you enjoy. Humans are social creatures, so don’t forget to foster your support network as well and tend to your relationships as well. 

5. Seeking support: therapy, counseling, and coaching

DIY approaches to mental health can only do so much, especially if you are struggling with work-life balance while also dealing with mental illness. In such cases, the best course of action is to find a mental health professional to improve your mental health. They can provide valuable insights, guidance, and tools to navigate the challenges of work and personal life, possibly identifying underlying issues that are preventing you from having a more balanced and fulfilling life. 

Mental Health Matters: Find the Perfect Therapist

Find a mental health professional in your state today. Meet online or in person — whatever best fits your lifestyle — and improve both work-life balance and mental health.