Striking a healthy balance between work and life

Confession. I’m a bit of a work-a-holic. I have always struggled with study-life or work-life balance. And to be painfully honest, at times over the past couple of years, it has impacted on my physical and emotional health. So this year I have set myself some resolutions, both professional and personal. One of these promises to myself straddles the line between professional and personal – to establish a healthy balance between my work and the enjoyment of the other facets of my life.

Drawing upon the wisdom of members of my PLN (including Louiza Hebhardt’s helpful blog and #TeacherWellbeingChat) and a number of the health and well-being experts that I follow across various social networks, I have come up with a few steps for how I (and maybe others who read this) might go about achieving this balance.

1. Establish a routine. This one’s not too difficult for me. I have always thrived on routine and my work day is divided by bells so I’m used to it. Where I have often fallen apart is making time for myself in that routine. So schedule some time to do the things you enjoy. I have recently started attend yoga and pilates classes and am loving it and am already feeling the benefits. When I go back to work this week, I intend to find time in my week to continue them. I’ve also embarked on a few small projects – painting, reading (which is a pastime I ADORE but just never seemed to managed to make time for in my day) and planting my own herbs (the source of much amusement for my partner because “it would be easier just to by the packs from the shops”).

2. Eat well. Drink lots of water. Exercise. Limit alcohol. This was a big mistake I made during my first couple of years teaching. I didn’t make the time in my day to exercise and I didn’t eat well at all. And I soon found myself getting sicker more easily than I ever had before, and started to put on weight. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t assault my body with deep-fried garbage. But I didn’t give it enough of the right nutrients either so my metabolism slowed. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and protein – limit the processed stuff, because while it’s convenient, it’s not good for you.

3. Enjoy positive relationships with colleagues, friends, families and partners. Make time to spend with them without other distractions. Be mindful of your relationship with yourself and others.

4. Learn to say ‘no’ and to ‘switch off.’ If there is something you truly do not feel comfortable with, or that is going to put you under unnecessary stress, learn to politely say ‘no’ and not feel guilty about it.’ And try to avoid taking work home (I know for educators this is a toughie!) and put the technology down for a while. Take time to enjoy the fresh air or have a face-to-face conversation. Until late last year I had my work email connected to my phone. It drove my partner crazy because I felt impelled to check it every time I heard it go off and would then feel I needed to reply. This also meant that parents had access to me at anytime. So now we’ve come to a compromise. The email has been disconnected from my phone (which is with me all the time) and connected to my iPad (which isn’t). It was incredible how much pressure that small switch alleviated from my life away from work.

5. Get plenty of sleep. A no-brainer that I struggle with. Our bodies need plenty of rest. When they don’t get enough we become less productive physically and mentally. During the term, I have previously functioned on about 5-6 hours sleep a night, when an adult should be getting at least 7-8. Wind down for about half an hour before you go to sleep. Switch technology off, read a book, fill in a gratitude journal, or just relax and be mindful of your breathing.

However you go about finding your work-life balance this year, look after yourself. And if you have any tips to offer, I am all ears! 🙂


4 responses

  1. Thank you Melissa for these sound tips. My email accidentally became disconnected from my phone and I have deliberately chosen not to re-connect for the very same reasons you describe.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Louiza! Best move I made. Don’t know why it took me so long…it’s almost like it was a fear of being disconnected from ‘important’ information that, in reality, could wait.

  2. I have a reasonably healthy work/life balance! Love my job… nearly ALL of it but know that if the balance gets out of kilter, so do I! Work to live, not live to work! Keep personal emails and work emails separate and that helps… also, only time I check (usually) work emails is when I have time to follow things up….. if not, I don’t go there! Computer (usually) flicks off at 9pm so I have some relax time. If I’m not good, my work suffers, my relationships suffer and it causes more stress. Looking after myself may sound selfish but in reality others benefit! Everyone should try it!

    1. Thank you for commenting! I also adore my job but sometimes I do let it take over which ends in it impacting on other aspects of my life. Hence this is a long-term goal for me this year. 🙂

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