Stress less, live more: Balancing work and life to avoid burnout

Do you feel like you need more hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to do? Balancing work, social life, and self-care can seem like an impossible dream when your job is demanding. You feel like you are on the brink of burnout when trying to cram too much into one day. So, how do you prevent this from happening?


When you're looking to gain some balance between work, social life, and self-care, you need to understand what 'balance' means, what it might look like and how to put it into practice. Managing all these aspects of your life can be challenging, especially if you have a demanding job that you feel you can't take a break from.

Recognising the significance of achieving and sustaining a balance between work, social life, and self-care is crucial because it plays a vital role in ensuring your overall well-being. Overworking yourself can lead to neglecting your personal needs and increase the likelihood of negative consequences such as burnout, decreased productivity and even mental health issues. It's essential, therefore, to prioritise self-care and maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life.

To resolve a problem, you first need to understand what the problem is and how you would recognise when it has been resolved. The same applies to setting priorities. Take some time to sit down with a cup of tea, a pen and a notepad to think about your personal values, goals and priorities in the different areas of your life, like work, relationships, and self-care. Once you have a physical list, you can use it to prioritise your tasks and allocate your time and energy accordingly, making decision-making easier.

At work

Setting boundaries

Setting clear boundaries in the workplace is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It can feel challenging, especially in today's fast-paced, nonstop work culture. It's vital to safeguard your personal time and ensure work doesn't creep into other areas of your life. How can you do your best at work when you're constantly burnt out and stressed? Instead of seeing boundary setting as a hindrance, reframe it as showing a commitment to your job, making you more productive and efficient.

Boundary-setting strategies for work might include:

  • Having clearly defined working hours — talk to your line manager about this so you can both be clear. Not many organisations would directly tell you that you need to be 'on' and available at all hours, even if it feels like that's what they're implying.
  • Limiting after-hours communication — if your boss emails you at 3.30am on a Saturday, that's their choice. Your choice can be to reply during your work hours. This is much easier to do when you've done point one above.
  • Setting out-of-office replies with regular timings so you know a response will be sent without you having to see that you've got an email. For example, have it set to out of office between 6pm and 7am.
  • Muting the work WhatsApp or Slack group when you're not at work. Set times to check it rather than having notifications constantly pinging up.
  • Delegating tasks when necessary — change your default setting from saying 'yes' to saying 'let me think about that and get back to you.' You might even want to get comfortable saying 'no'! Again, you can't do your best work when you're overloaded and overwhelmed with tasks that other people could be doing or helping with.

Time management

Effective time management makes a huge contribution to keeping stress in check. Give yourself time to check in with what you need to tackle at the beginning and again at the end of the day so you're ready for tomorrow.

  • Prioritise tasks - work out what needs to be done and by when. 
  • Time-blocking is really helpful. For example, 'I will set aside one hour at 10am tomorrow to work on this task.'
  • Multitasking is overrated, and honestly, no one does it well. 
  • Find productivity tools or apps that track time and tasks. The Pomodoro technique, for example, involves setting a timer and focusing on one task for that amount of time. You will be surprised at just how much you can achieve in 25 to 50 minutes of targeted and focused time. 

Communicating your boundaries

Talk openly with supervisors and colleagues about workload and deadlines, and keep expectations realistic. Be your own advocate by asserting your boundaries respectfully and negotiating workload or schedule adjustments when necessary.

At home

Prioritise self-care, the activities that recharge and rejuvenate you. When you choose self-care practices that can be easily integrated into your daily routines, you're more likely to do them. Instead of viewing self-care as another task to add to your already long to-do list, try reframing it as something that makes you feel a little calmer, happier or more relaxed. Exercise, meditation, hobbies and spending time with people who make you feel good are all excellent self-care activities. 

Be flexible

Maintaining balance in life is an ongoing process that requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing situations. Be gentle with yourself and recognise that balance may well look different to you than to others or at different points of your life, especially during times of increased stress. 

Sometimes life can get overwhelming - it's ok to ask for help and support. Support can come from friends or family, or you can access professional resources such as counselling. As a counsellor, I work with people like you who struggle to maintain boundaries and find it difficult to say 'no'.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or on the edge of burnout, get in touch to schedule a single session of therapy with me. Together, we can find practical solutions to maintaining boundaries and avoiding stress. To learn more about working with me, please visit my profile.

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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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People constantly rush, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted.

If this sounds like you and you'd like to learn more, contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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