Work Life Balance: The Need for Self-Awareness & Care
The balance between work and life starts with self-awareness, out of which one is able to self-care and regulate emotions accordingly.
Being able to express the needs at hand and heart requires more than a thought process. On another hand, when emotions or feelings remain unexpressed or suppressed, they find a way out - for the body both keeps the score and remembers (Van der Kolk, 1996). And when the body says "no" (Mate, 2012), experiencing either physical pain, loss of sleep or patience come as no surprise.
In my upcoming memoir titled - Restored: A journey toward forgiving and healing, I speak of life balance as meant to be addressed from holistic perspectives such as physical, psychological, spiritual, financial, occupational and socially.
As the saying goes, nobody is an island and we all need support systems in place in order to reach our respective goals and full potential. Be it at home or family settings, places of work, at school and socially.
Life and work balance requires a constant monitoring of self-awareness and "relationship gauge" in check.
In other words, both body-mind-spirit are interconnected and when one gets misaligned; those involved as shareholders suffer the resulting consequences thereafter. When parenting amidst family responsibilities or workplace demands continue mounting, being reminded that you are not alone is crucial.
Having a safe space with a trusted partner or colleague can make a difference – a needed shift at a time of "mental stretch and stuckness." Relationally, having a supportive partner or a team spirit at work with a colleague or manager; can enhance the wellbeing of employees and productivity as well as the overall betterment in one's relationship and productivity – personally and professionally. In my recent article on workplace wellness and the impact of stress and anxiety, when one expresses their psychological or physical need either to a colleague or an employer; its not a sign of weakness but rather courage.
Putting "wellness first" is the ultimate goal for life-work balance.
I must admit that, the definition for life-work balance varies. In other words, it doesn’t mean, having equal balance; for example: You cannot say that you'll have an exact equal amount of hours dedicated to work and for home life and personal activities or obligations – for that is I find such expectations either unrealistic or unrewarding. Life isn't so clear-cut and simple!
Because life is partly changing and in transitions; so does life and work balance.
Think about a time when you were single or when you got into a romantic relationship or even marriage. How about when you had a new job or became a parent and when you progressed toward retirement? The balance you'll have today will also be different from tomorrow's.
A perfect work-life balance does not exist. It is a moving target.
Without being obsessed, there is no perfect balance but at least you can strive for a better one. For no one size that fits all. Therefore, since we all have different needs and at different life stages and ages; the ideal work-life balance is that you're willing to enhance and better each day as priorities and responsibilities evolve. The quality time spent alone reading a book or exercising today can be one's goal for health reasons and wellness. In my opinion, at the core of work-life balance; there are daily motivations, goals and above all, passion.
Career and work are not meant to be a trap but rather viewed as source of income and financial stability as well as meaning to life but also enjoyment and being rejuvenated. Life-work balance can also incorporate both a sense of well-being, wellness, family, community, relationships, friends, room for growth, celebration, giving and receiving love, belonging, joy and happiness. Did you notice a difference?
The former is relational in nature and it matters a lot when it comes to life work balance. This is what I call, meaningful life work balance. Celebrating the gift of life each day you wake up. And knowing, deep in your heart that you're loved, you belong, you matter, have a role and purpose both relationally and professionally.
Being able to support and encourage one another be it at home or places of work and schools. When we allow ourselves being the instruments, that are life-giving and not draining in a our life-work circles; be the source of support rather than stress and anxiety-provoking. Stress management is extremely important for your personal well-being.
Work life balance starts with self-awareness.
Understanding your respective needs and responsibilities at hand, as well as being able to rectify the source of either physical and emotional disturbance or stress. Knowing when to listen to your physical and psychological needs or having the courage to express your concerns with those around can be the necessary aspect in balancing life-work needs.
Seeking the appropriate professional or medical support in a timely manner could lead towards meaningful help rather than separating one from derailing on a costly path instead. Exploring where you are on both the wellness trajectory and life work balance is crucial, especially when personal; interpersonal as well as professional needs seem to be pulling or pushing from opposing directions.
Being reminded that a sense of connection, self-awareness and community belonging are all predictors, which affirm our deepest human needs such as attachment and life satisfaction (Putnam, 2000).
In conclusion, remember that you are not alone.
Seek to explore and expand your self-awareness horizons through personal growth, help and support. Whenever in doubt please ask, for it's through curiosity, need for personal and wellness opportunities and most off; there is no dumb or stupid question but answers ☺
Maté, G. (2012). When the body says no : The cost of hidden stress (Vintage Canada ed. ed.). Toronto: Vintage Canada.
Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone : The collapse and revival of american community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Van der Kolk, B., McFarlane, A., & Weisæth, L. (1996). Traumatic stress : The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford Press.
As a mental health & clinical psychotherapist, Noah Mugenyi's experience includes working at the Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital WMS), The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW), TDSB, Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, The Royal Canadian Yacht Club before serving as current clinical director at Toronto East Psychotherapy.
For questions, comment or feedback visit Noah's RingMD profile (here) where you can also contact him directly.
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