Dolly Parton once said, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” All too often we become consumed with our work that we forget the importance of life outside of our careers. To be happy and healthy, we must lead a balanced lifestyle.
Have you ever been called a workaholic by a friend or family member? Sometimes people use this term simply because we work hard at our careers and dedicate many hours to our jobs. But this term has a scientific definition and comes with some serious health concerns we should keep in mind.
The term, ‘workaholic’ was coined in 1971 by psychologist, Wayne E. Oates. It is defined as a person who has an uncontrollable need to work incessantly. Workaholics have an inner compulsive drive to work hard, think about work constantly, and feel guilty and restless when they are not working. While workaholism and working long hours go together, the two are distinct, and it is possible to work long hours without being a workaholic.
A 2010 study found that working long hours was not related to any health issues but workaholism contributed to numerous health concerns. Workaholics report a higher need for recovery, sleep problems, increased cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings than workers who simply work long hours but do not have workaholic tendencies.
The key to avoid becoming a workaholic is the ability to detach from work. We need to be able to go home and “switch off” our work mode. Detaching from work can seem impossible at times. We have worked so hard to get to where we are in our careers that taking time for ourselves can seem wrong. We need to remind ourselves that if we don’t allow for down time, we cannot be our best selves at work. Unwinding and leading a healthy lifestyle are crucial for us to be the best in our careers.
The struggle of finding that perfect work-life balance is something that so many people deal with every single day. While there is no right answer and everyone’s situation varies, we have some tips that might help you achieve that balance:
1. Acknowledge when a relationship with work is unhealthy. If your life feels out of control and your job is undermining relationships outside of work, there is a good chance you have some workaholic tendencies. How can you deal with this?
o Set clear rules for how many hours you will work each day. This can help you identify when you’ve done enough work for the day.
o If you have trouble “switching off” from work, stop working two to three hours before bed. This can help you decompress and get a good night sleep.
§ To unwind at night: Watch some Netflix, read a book, exercise, spend time with your loved ones or friends.
o Create a to-do list each week, make a long-term goal list, differentiate between urgent and non-urgent tasks, and schedule non-interrupted time for important tasks.
o Find ways to promote intrinsic motivation at work.
§ This can be done through new and challenging projects at work or even discussing your personal and professional growth.
2. VACATION! Yes, that’s right, in case you needed any more reason to love vacation, studies show that it can help you live a healthy life.
The 1992 Framingham Heart Study, which stands as the gold standard for long-term health studies, explored the importance of vacation on physical and mental health. The study found that men who don’t take vacations are 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks and for women, that number goes up to 50 percent.
“It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress. This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health,” Elaine Eaker, a coauthor of the study told the New York Times.
Researchers have also found that vacation is crucial for mental health and people’s overall well-being. According to Brigid Schulte, Director of The Better Life Lab, people who don’t take vacation are often more prone to sickness, less productive, stressed, and more anxious and depressed.
Not only does vacation help our mental and physical health but seeing different places around the world and different resorts can help stir creativity and inspire us in our careers.
While finding that perfect work-life balance can take time and practice, we hope these tips can help you get started on living a more healthy and happy life. For us to be successful in our careers we need to reserve time for life outside of work. So, don’t forget to take the much needed “me time” and maybe start looking at some vacation destinations because a week on the beach or exploring a new place is key for a healthy life!
Have another helpful tip to help with work-life balance? Drop it in a comment below and we’ll share it throughout our channels!