Achieving a healthy work-life balance: practical tips for success

In today's fast-paced world, finding and sustaining a healthy work-life balance has become increasingly challenging. With the growing demands of our jobs and our personal lives, it's essential to strike a balance that allows us to maintain our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In this article, we'll explore psychological tips and strategies for developing a healthy work-life balance, drawing on my insight as an existential therapist and career coach.


Understanding the importance of work-life balance

A good work-life balance enables us to manage our professional and personal lives effectively, providing time and energy for both our work responsibilities and our personal interests. Research has shown that supporting work-life balance can increase productivity, employee engagement, and overall happiness.

For any organisation, business, or manager, promoting a healthy work-life balance among employees can lead to a more motivated and productive workforce, reducing turnover and improving company performance. For any individual, achieving a balance between work and personal life can improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being, which in turn can lead to greater job satisfaction and success.
Ignoring the downfalls of a stressful or demanding work environment can have significant consequences. Mental Health UK study (2021) shows that after the pandemic, one in five UK employees felt ‘unable’ to manage pressure and stress at work.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy work-life balance cannot be seen as a one-time fix or ad-hoc exercise. In an ever-changing world, sustainable work-life balance needs to become part of the cycle of life, one that starts with the awareness of how we are and recognition of any struggles we might be facing. Below there are some tips and suggestions on how to improve our day-to-day behaviours and habits to strive towards a more balanced life.

How to strive towards a more balanced life 

1. Focusing on your well-being

a. Physical health

Maintaining physical health is an essential component of a healthy work-life balance. Ensure that you get regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get adequate sleep to stay energised and focused at work and in your personal life.

 b. Mental and emotional health

Your mental and emotional well-being is just as important as your physical health. Establish regular self-care routines to help reduce stress, such as meditation, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Additionally, seek professional help if needed, such as counselling or therapy, to address any mental health concerns.

2. Setting realistic goals and schedules

a. Assessing your current workload

To achieve a healthy work-life balance, it's crucial to set realistic goals and schedules for both your professional and personal life. Think and assess your workload and schedule to establish a plan that allows for more control and appropriate free time. If relevant, discuss with your manager or even a mentor the reasons you feel are behind your current levels of stress or even burnout, proposing possible solutions, such as additional help, guidance, or a change in schedule or workload.
b. Prioritising tasks

As you create a realistic schedule, prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance. Focus on completing essential tasks first, and if possible, delegate or postpone less critical tasks to ensure that you have enough time and energy for your personal life.

3. Learning to say 'no'

Sometimes we feel guilty or inadequate when faced with additional work, but it is important to recognise that adding more tasks to an already busy schedule will not reduce your stress. It's essential to know when to say 'no', when feeling overwhelmed. Be at work or in your personal life, it is important to communicate your limitations, explain why you're unable to take on extra activities and, if possible, offer alternative solutions.  

4. Setting boundaries and managing expectations

a. Establishing non-negotiables

Identify the non-negotiable aspects of your life, such as family events, personal commitments, and self-care activities. Communicate these non-negotiables with your employer and colleagues to ensure that they respect and accommodate your need for work-life balance.
b. Setting communication boundaries

To achieve a healthy work-life balance, it's essential to set boundaries regarding your availability outside of work hours. Establish and communicate specific times when you're reachable for work-related matters, and adhere to these boundaries to prevent work from encroaching on your personal life.

5. Taking regular breaks

Taking breaks throughout your workday is vital for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Regular breaks can help prevent increased levels of stress, anxiety or burnout; they also improve focus and boost productivity.

Schedule breaks during your workday and communicate your break times with your colleagues to ensure they understand and respect your need for downtime. In your personal life, it is also good to take a break between activities to focus on yourself, even something as simple as a 10-minute tea break whilst taking care of the home or reading a few pages of a book, you could make all the difference to keep stress and anxiety at bay.

6. Home-working or commuting –  create a routine 

Working from home presents challenges in achieving a work-life balance. To maintain productivity and balance, establish a routine that mirrors your in-office schedule. Set defined working hours, create a dedicated workspace, and take regular breaks to separate your work and personal life.

If you have a daily commute, use this time to engage in activities that contribute to your well-being. Listen to podcasts, catch up on personal emails or phone calls, or practice mindfulness exercises to make your commute more enjoyable and productive.

7. Choosing quality of life as a priority

Consider your priorities and what makes you most fulfilled in your personal life and when making career decisions. For some people, work gives them purpose in life and it is an outlet for their creativity and passions; for others, family, their community, or faith, provides the meaning and drive they need in life. Whatever you feel contributes to your quality of life ought to be prioritised to sustain a more balanced life, which in turn will lead to greater overall satisfaction and well-being. 
In conclusion, achieving a healthy work-life balance is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, communication, and dedication. By implementing these practical behavioural tips and strategies, you can work towards a more balanced and fulfilling life, both professionally and personally.
Work-life balance is a subject I help clients with, so if you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, visit my profile and do get in touch by clicking the ‘email me’ button below.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW15 & SW18
Written by Arlette Correia, Counsellor / Psychotherapist / Career Coach
London SW15 & SW18

Arlette Correia is a BACP registered existential psychotherapist and career coach.

With over 20 years of experience in the corporate world, Arlette is well versed on the practical and psychological challenges of managing work-life balance. She can support you to define you own quality of life goals and develop the confidence to achieve them.

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