The adjustment from college to the real world can feel like a serious shock. Gone are the days of sleeping in late, midday workouts, and late nights with friends. Working a 9-5 is a major adjustment in your early twenties, and as you grow into your late twenties it can be difficult to know if what you’re experiencing is just the “daily grind” or a total lack of work-life balance that’s adding to your overall stress levels.
Here are nine signs you have lost control of your work-life balance and some tips to rectify it.
1. Your body is always in pain.
Suffering from chronic headaches or neck and shoulder pain is often a sign that you’re living in a constant state of strain. It means that it’s time to step up your self-care routine. Draw yourself a bath at night, make time for that hot shower in the morning, and get an oil diffuser in your office to disperse tension-relieving aromas or treat yourself to a spa day. The pain you’re experiencing is your body’s way of telling you it needs a break and some attention.
2. You are always tired.
Maybe you’re lucky to get six hours of sleep at night or maybe you’re experiencing persistent fatigue despite getting in all eight hours. Persistent fatigue could be your brain’s way of saying it’s on overload and can’t keep concentrating or making decisions at the pace you are pushing it to.
3. Your patience is wearing thin.
When we have no work-life balance, we often start to lose our temper quicker and hold on to resentments a little tighter. If you find yourself getting short with coworkers or the cashier getting your change, once in a while that’s normal, but take note if it starts to happen daily or multiple times a day. Try starting and ending your day with a daily gratitude list to train your mind to focus on the positive.
4. You can’t remember the last time you enjoyed yourself.
When we are overworking ourselves, our concept of time is often distorted. Take a moment to really think about the last time you had a belly laugh or did something you love. Often we don’t realize how long it has actually been. Make sure you are engaging in at least one task each week that you truly enjoy, and aren’t being obligated to do.
5. Your relationships are struggling.
Sure, you spend all day conversing with the people around you, but how long has it been since you spent time with friends or had a real conversation with your family? If people are always complaining that they never see you then it’s probably a sign you need to reprioritize how you are spending your time.
6. Your personal and professional space is a mess.
In ‘High Octane Woman,’ Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D discusses how a messy external space often overloads the brain and leads to burnout. Get into the habit of cleaning your desk every day before leaving the office and picking up a few pieces of clothing from the floor before leaving your house in the morning to help calm your mind and rebalance.
7. You’re glued to your phone.
It’s harder than ever to leave work at the office with email and cloud-based communications and it can feel as if workers are expected to be available at the drop of a hat. However, it’s important to have a conversation with your employer about after hours responses before assuming they expect you to respond to every email after you leave for the day. Oftentimes they send it when they remember, but you don’t need to respond until you are back in the office.
8. You’re unclear about your priorities.
When you are unclear on your priorities, it can be difficult to say “no” when something comes up which will ultimately lead to no work-life balance. Try to get really clear on your vision for the future. Psychotherapist and Right Life Project founder Jim Hjort, LCSW encourages you to look at your future, “with respect to career, family and other social connections, recreational pursuits, and aspects of physical and mental health,” and then think about whether or not your current work/life balance is consistent with making progress toward those goals. If it’s not, figure out how you can reprioritize your current schedule to match those larger life goals.
9. You strive for perfection.
Perfectionism is one of those tricky concepts that people must think about critically. Everyone wants to succeed, but oftentimes perfectionism comes at a cost, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or a total lack of work-life balance. Instead of worrying about failing, try to reframe your thinking that you are “failing forward” and every mistake or challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Getting your work-life balance under control is essential to avoiding burnout. Be mindful when any of the above situations arise for you and make sure to adjust your schedule and priorities accordingly.
Source: “9 Signs You Have No Work-Life Balance”, Rachel Ritlop