Work-life balance

work/life, balance, stress, downtime, sleep, homeopathy

I’ve been thinking a lot about work/life balance lately and also wondering what it actually means and whether it even exists.

Work-life boundaries can become blurred when you really enjoy your work.

Self-awareness is the first step

A change in routine, or simply some extra down-time can provide some much-needed reflection time.

Today I went out to the Southbank Centre with my husband and young son. We visited the Hayward Gallery to see an exhibition and to take a walk by the river.

Travelling into Waterloo on the tube, I realised it was the first time we had gone out together as a family in more than a year, and probably more like two. It was a small thing, to go out for the afternoon, but felt very special.

My husband has been a full-time PhD student for four years.

I feel like my life is divided into pre-PhD and post-PhD, and I didn’t even do the Ph.D.!

Something else I’ve been thinking about lately is workaholism as an addiction.

Completing a Ph.D. involved a lot of focus and long hours of work for Jonathan. It shaped our family routine and was part of our lives for so long that it became normal.

Ingrained habits are hard to shift.

Stress addiction

When someone comes to see me for the first time, we look at all their different symptoms in quite a lot of detail.

The first thing I do is try to figure out the underlying cause for each thing that is going on.

Sometimes there are test results and/or a diagnosis, but not always. Common underlying issues include stress, shock or trauma (past or present) and drug toxicity. There are others, but those are the top three.

Stress is a huge trigger, especially as stress can be addictive when it’s enjoyable.

When you feel under pressure of work, or if you are involved in something inspiring, it can be hard to switch off.  If you keep working in ‘full on’ mode, your body is in a double-bind.

On one hand, it’s doing something that is rewarding and enjoyable.

On the other hand, it’s struggling to keep going without proper downtime for rest and recovery.

work In Progress

While my husband was in the final year of his Ph.D., we were both working really hard.

I felt like I was losing a part of myself. I realised I hadn’t read a book in ages, or even cooked a new recipe, let alone picked up my knitting or sewing.

These last few months I’ve been making a huge effort to create more balance. I’ve taken more time off-line, more downtime generally, and more time to sleep. 

I’ve been to see my own homeopath too.

I can really feel the difference. I’m happier and calmer, and life feels more spacious.

This week I really enjoyed this wonderful interview with a 14-year-old on his parents’ work-life balance.

Lots to think about, and an interesting read whether or not you have kids.

If you are wondering whether stress could be the root cause of some symptoms you’re not happy about, and you’re looking for more balance, Iet’s talk.

 

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One thought on “Work-life balance

  1. Anna says:

    Hi Tracy,
    thanks for this post and the link to the interview with the 14 year old boy! Very interesting indeed, I love how he describes how the dad cooks them breakfast, and found it quite revealing how he describes the ‘uh-uh, uh-uh’ sounds his dad makes when he focusses on his phone rather than his son! Been there so many times…

    One thing however made me think that maybe we’re sending the wrong messages out to our kids sometimes in respect to our jobs, and the fulfilment we get through them – When asked “When you get older, what do you want to imitate about the way your parents balance work and life, and what would you want to do differently?”, he responds: “I really respect how much my dad works and his work ethic. I hope to have a job one day that I enjoy so much that I want to work so hard. Because when you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. So I think his work-life balance is perfect. ”

    I just don’t think this is true – even if you love your job you can get out of balance, as you described perfectly and as I and many of my friends have experienced in the past. Maybe it’s even easier to get out of balance, because for a long time you don’t realise you’re using up your energy levels, and you’re much more willing to put in more, and more, and more… until maybe it’s too late and no energy is left… and with a job you’re not as attached to you’d probably stop sooner, therefore e-gaining the balance sooner?

    So I for myself would like to teach my children a slightly different ‘work (life?) ethic’ ! Yes, I truly believe it’s important to work, to earn money, and to have the desire to ‘do a good job’. But in my opinion it should be seen as an ‘added extra’ to work in a job that you also greatly enjoy – there are so many other things that are so much more important than a job… and maybe it is even better to get fulfilment through other areas, not (just) work? Anyway, just a few thoughts! x

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