As individuals, we chase new job opportunities that bring us great success and provide a better lifestyle. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to realize that it sometimes comes with increased workloads and longer hours. This raises the question on the health of your work-life balance. We will discuss what a work-life balance is, the importance of a work- life balance, and finally, how you can improve the balance between the two.
When we are questioned about what work-life balance is we generally think it is the intersection of personal life and work that comes to a point. However, an article by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) states that balance doesn’t mean splitting your time equally but ensuring that the individual needs are fulfilled in both work and personal aspects of their life. Furthermore, Health Canada broadens work-life balance into four categories:
1. Role Overload: This form is when the amount of demand on time and energy on your role surpasses your limits, therefore, infringing your performance within the role.
2. Work-to-family Interference: This conflict occurs when work duties make it difficult to part-take or fulfill. Responsibilities within your family (e.g., long hours or stressful workload increase conflict with the family environment).
3. Family-to-work Interference: This conflict occurs because family duties make it difficult to part-take or fulfill work-role responsibilities (e.g., conflicts with partner/family make it hard to keep concentration at work).
4. Caregiver Strain: This is a multi-dimensional that defines the term “burden” which is when you must provide care or assistance to someone else who needs it (e.g., a loved one with a spectrum or physical disability that needs aid to complete a day-to-day task).
These four categories provide us with a greater ability to define what elements of our life we need to improve and/or alter to reach a healthy level of work-life balance, but what is the importance of having this balance in your life?
The importance and benefits of maintaining a healthy work-life balance are maintaining and improving one’s mental health. When a person is balanced, it can benefit them by relieving a ton of pressure on their mind that can reduce the chance of chronic stress that normally leads to burnout from mental exhaustion. A Yale Medicine article defines chronic stress as prolonged feelings of pressure and being overwhelmed over a long period of time and this is further illustrated by a study done by Dr. Liji Thomas that states that chronic stress can weaken our immune system leading to minor illnesses like muscle aches and headaches; there are also greater risks of strokes and heart attacks. Having this balance in your life could transform your life tremendously; not only mentally but physically creating a more well-rounded life.
Finally, we will take a step in the journey to a better work-life balance. An article by Business News Daily provides us with three ways to create a better work-life balance. The first one that is suggested is to accept that there is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance. This ‘perfect’ balance can differ from individual to individual. At times you may have to put focus on other areas of your life like your children or you must travel for work therefore we must reassess your situation where you are in comparison to your goals and priorities. Second, find a job that you love. When you are working in a field that you are passionate about it tends to not feel like work and more like a hobby. It will not only relieve stress on your mental health but entice you to go to work. The last one we are left with is the prioritization of health. This should be your primary main concern. According to a stat from Canada Public Health Service, it is stated that 1 in 3 Canadian experience mental illness in their lifetime. As mentioned before mental illness can lead to physical implications. To avoid this, we should attend those fitness classes or therapy sessions that will help benefit us to upkeep mental and physical well-being.
No matter the situation, as we advance as individuals, we should always aspire to have a healthy work-life balance to make sure our mental and physical health stays intact while fulfilling the needs and demands our individual lives entail.
1. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. 2023. “What is Meant by Work-Life Balance?", Government of Canada. Retrieved on May 12, 2023. (https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/worklife_balance.html#section- 1-hdr)
2. Yale Medicine. 2023. “Chronic Stress.”, Yale Medicine. Retrieved on May 12, 2023. (https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/stress-disorder#:~:text=•A%20consistent%20sense%20of,changes%2C%20medication s%2C%20setting%20realistic%20goals)
3. Thomas, Liji. 2021. “Importance of a Work-Life Balance.”, New Medical Life Sciences. Retrieved on May 12, 2023. (https://www.news-medical.net/health/Importance-of-a-Work-Life-Balance.aspx)
4. Sanfilippo, Marisa. 2023. “How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today.”, Business News Daily. Retrieved on May 12, 2023. (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5244-improve-work-life-balance-today.html)