Whether you’re working from home or you’re back to the office, there are many elements of work that can be difficult or stressful. Because we spend so much of our time at work, it can sometimes be tough to separate the two, especially if you’re under pressure at work. Cultivating a positive and productive workday and setting boundaries outside of work can help achieve a healthy work-life balance. Here, we’re going to share some tips that can help you to do just that.
1. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
The best way to prepare for work is a good night’s sleep the night before. Sleep helps regulate your weight, your blood pressure, and your mood. Your concentration and memory are also at their best when you are well-rested. In addition, getting enough sleep can help protect you from getting sick and missing work altogether. According to one study, participants who regularly slept 8 hours or more were three times less likely to experience symptoms of the common cold after begin exposed to the virus!
Sometimes getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, particularly if you’re experiencing high-stress levels or burnout. You may have difficulty getting to sleep at night or you might find it tough staying asleep throughout the night. However, there are some things that you can do to help. We suggest sticking with a sleep routine. Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning can help you get into a healthy sleeping pattern. To prepare the body and mind for sleep, try to wind down for an hour or so before you plan on hitting the hay. By this we mean, opting for relaxing activities instead of stimulating ones. For instance, you could try some meditation or yoga before bed. Equally, you could swap tv-time for some reading, or a relaxing bath.
2. Exercising to Boost Your Mood
Exercise not only improves your physical health but also releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that can help boost your mood and help relieve stress. This means that hitting the gym after work can be a great way to blow off some steam, especially if you have had a tough day. It can also help you separate your workday from your home life, helping to achieve that precious work-life balance. To encourage an active atmosphere at work, try setting up a 5k challenge with colleagues or a monthly step challenge. A workplace challenge can work well whether you work remotely or you’re in the office. It brings colleagues together to discuss something other than work life, and it encourages you to be more active.
3. Getting Some Fresh Air & Natural Light
Did you know that natural light can help increase attention and alertness? Views of green vegetation have also been shown to correspond with higher attention levels. Of course, not everyone will have a beautiful big window right next to their desk, but you can work around this. To do this, we recommend popping to the gardening centre on the weekend and picking up some small potted plants for your workspace. Try to choose cacti or succulents as they need very little care and do not need to be watered very often. No one wants to come back to work after a long weekend to a desk full of dead plants! If this isn’t something you can do in your workplace, we suggest opting for an al fresco lunch. Try to visit a nearby park or other outdoor space during our lunch break. The fresh air will help to clear your head and give you a break away from the office.
If you’re looking for working from home tips, this can certainly help too. When we work from home, we have a very short commute to the home office and usually, we don’t need to leave our homes for this commute. Spending your entire day inside can leave us feeling cooped up and it can be tough maintaining a healthy work-life balance. To differentiate your workday from your evenings at home, we suggest taking a walk directly after work. This will act as a commute time, giving you a chance to decompress. It will also help you get some fresh air, natural light, and some exercise!
4. Socialising With Your Coworkers at Work and Afterwards
The positive impact of friends on mental and physical health is well measured. Studies show that friends may even help you live longer, improve health measurements such as blood pressure, reduce your suffering during hard times, and keep your mind sharp as you age! Social interaction with co-workers can be just as important. Having people to talk to and laugh with at work can protect you from burnout on the job and make the workplace feel more positive and enjoyable. Try to spend lunch breaks getting to know your co-workers and discussing things other than work.
We also recommend meeting up with workmates outside of the workplace every so often. This is especially important if you work remotely full-time. Working remotely can become isolating and it can be difficult to get to know your coworkers from behind a screen. Try to organise a lunch or coffee meeting where you can meet up with your team “in real life”.
If you find it difficult to switch off after work, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your coworkers though. Setting up a Whatsapp group chat is a nice way to stay in contact with your team and chat outside of work. However, if you find that the constant “ping” of the group chat is reminding you of work when you would prefer to fully switch off on the weekend, don’t be afraid to hit that “mute” button. Sometimes, you need to fully separate yourself from all things work-related to rest properly, especially if you’re under pressure at work. Therefore, setting boundaries can help protect your work-life balance.
5. Time Blocking and Planning Your Workday
Some productivity experts recommend taking a short break after a period of intensive, focused work. This allows you to concentrate and then refresh your mind during the period of a short break. Sitting at a desk for the majority of the day can be tiring, despite the apparent lack of physical exertion. Try taking a short break to stand up, stretch, or take a quick walk around the office. This can help keep your mind alert and focused on the task at hand.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, take a few minutes to plan it out. Write a list of tasks and prioritise them. Then, take a look at your schedule. Block out chunks of time between meetings for each of your tasks. This will help you allocate time for each task, and with a plan of action in tow, you can work through your to-do list efficiently. You could try to knock shorter, easier tasks off the list each morning to get them out of the way. That way, you have the rest of your workday to work through larger, more time-consuming tasks.
Tick tasks off your to-do list as you go along as it will help you keep track of where you are work-wise. It will also give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement when you tick something off the list, helping to bring some positivity into your workday! At the end of each day, take a look at your to-do list again. If there are outstanding items, move them to tomorrow’s “priority” section and try to clock off when your workday is over. It’s inevitable that you will have to work late some evenings but try not to make a habit of it. It can affect your work-life balance if your workday is constantly eating into your leisure time.
6. Moderating Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine, often consumed in the form of coffee and tea, has been shown to make people more productive on a short-term basis. This is because it can help increase memory retention and alertness. Despite its benefits in the workplace, caffeine is a double-edged sword, and it’s important not to over-indulge. Caffeine can cause a crash that makes you feel more tired later on in the day. Also, drinking it in excess can lead to feelings of anxiety and affect a person’s sleep schedule. Unfortunately, this means that it could negatively affect your work life and your general mood.
Try to limit your coffee intake to earlier in the day. For instance, a coffee in the morning can help perk you up and prepare for the day ahead. Equally, coffee after lunch can help keep you alert for the afternoon. Try to avoid caffeine in the evenings and at night as it can make it difficult to get to sleep. If you enjoy a hot beverage after dinner, why not opt for a peppermint tea instead? Peppermint tea is believed to help digestion and it is caffeine-free!
What Are Your Favourite Ways of Maintaining A Healthy Work-Life Balance?
The above are some of our top tips for achieving a healthy work-life balance but there are tonnes of other ways that might work for you. We would love to hear your health and wellbeing tips at work too! Share your tips and tricks with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
If you find that you are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance and it is impacting your mental or physical health negatively, we recommend reaching out to your HR manager or a medical professional. Here at Webdoctor.ie, our doctors are available 7 days a week, including evenings and weekends. You can simply book an online video consultation to discuss your concerns.