For most Australian’s, our daily lives operate at a frantic pace and thanks to new technology, smart phones and lightening speed internet, the expectation to respond to communication, anywhere, anytime, means finding the perfect work life balance can be a real challenge.
So it’s little wonder that as a nation, our stress levels are increasing and with that comes a raft of mental and physical health impacts. According to the 2013 Stress and Wellbeing Survey conducted by Australian Psychological Society, Australian’s had significantly lower levels of wellbeing and significantly higher levels of stress and distress, and depressive and anxiety symptoms than in previous years.
But rather than sit back and accept these statistics, let’s take charge, make a change and start reducing daily stress levels. Here are 5 practical ways to regain work life balance and improve your health and wellbeing.
1. Set boundaries around work time and location
Making a rule around not bringing work into the home can be difficult, especially with the expectation that we must be accessible 24/7. But by leaving the laptop at work you may also be more likely to leave the stress of work there too. If you work from home or it is simply not feasible to do this in your position, allocating set times that you work and areas of the house that you work from, may help you ‘shut off’ and stop work stress seeping into your home life.
2. Put the Smart Phone Down!
According to a Roy Morgan Research study, 45% of Australian smart phone owners (14+ years) say they can’t live without their mobiles. Our obsession and absolute dependence on our smart phones is making it even more difficult to walk away from work with emails accessible at a swipe. Forming some healthy habits around when and where you use your smart phone may help you switch off, allowing you to relax, be present and enjoy home life. Research also shows that the blue/green light omitted from smart phones impacts negatively on sleep, so keeping phones and laptops away from the bedroom is a must.
3. Share and commit to the plan
Sharing your plan to ‘leave work at the office’ with loved ones or friends will help make your commitment real. Give them the power to call you on it, if you are sneaking in one more email before bed or taking calls when you should be relaxing with the kids. Sharing your ‘de-stress plan’ and forming a good support network will also help share the burden of stress or help manage the symptoms.
4. Form an End of Work Ritual
Making a cue or signal that works has finished for the day may help your brain switch off. Whether it is going for a run, hitting the pilates studio or listening to music on the way home, these are simple ways to say to yourself and others, ‘I am done for the day’!
There really is no better de-stressor than exercise. This can be time just for you to unwind, work on your fitness and have a bit of “me time”. Exercise has been clinically proven to increase serotonin levels in the brain and is a natural mood enhancer. It can also help you think things through, decompress and work through any baggage you may have taken on for the day.
Achieving the right work life balance can be a challenge in our fast pace society but by learning how to manage stress; you can significantly improve your health and wellbeing. If you are struggling with stress, talking to a professional can help. Psychology Consultants have a team of Clinical Psychologists based at Morningside and Newmarket, who are experienced in stress management. Visit the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website to view the team and their areas of specialisation.