When the Covid 19 Pandemic took hold two years ago, many workers were forced to look at their lives differently. While some folks were able to keep going to their jobs, others were forced to work from home or other remote location. There were a lot of questions about how to adjust to this new paradigm. Everyone who was working remotely had to navigate getting their work done, helping their other family members manage their responsibilities, and maintain patience while not tripping over each other in the now crowded home space.
For some, things worked out. It might not have been a cake-walk, but forging ahead and taking care of business became do-able. For others, it was more difficult. Carving out the time and space to do their work and work around the others in their household became more than a chore, it drove up blood pressure, it brought frustration and resentment, as well as the realization that not everyone is meant to work from home and without the input and support of their co-workers. And not everyone is comfortable working around all the distractions that became inherent to working from home.
These weren’t necessarily new circumstances. Anyone who has worked for themselves or run a home-based business has faced these issues and has taken on these obstacles. Ostensibly, survival meant finding the right balance between home life and work life, even though work life was now conducted at home.
Achieving part of that balance came from getting buy-in from the rest of the household. Kids had to be taught that when mommy and daddy are working they were not to be disturbed. Parents had to carve out time to monitor their kids to ensure school assignments were getting completed and remote learning didn’t become a complete fail. Instead of trips to the supermarket, food had to be ordered from delivery apps and many home cooks thought they should be contestants on Top Chef for their imagined culinary wizardry. And pets were just as easily a nuisance as they were a pacifier. It’s hard to concentrate when the dog is barking at the neighbor’s cat or chasing something under your desk. Our little fur-babies had to be discouraged from their joy of having their people around all the time.
But work-life balance was not so easily achieved. The reality was that after wrestling with all the necessary technology to accomplish their own work and that of their children, working around the various obstacles was exhausting. Add to that the frustration of stay-at-home mandates, concerns about the virus’ ability to spread, and the limited number of places we could go and feel comfortable away from crowds and possible infection, became overwhelming.
Many people made themselves a wide variety of promises. Some had reading lists they wanted to tackle, home projects that needed action, exercise that was scheduled, online classes that were to be taken, bread to be baked, and places to be visited. But as the pandemic raged on and the ups and downs triggered by the virus variants took their toll on our patience and energy many of those “I’m gonna do …,” became “I don’t wanna …,” and lethargy took over.
Now that the Pandemic is slowly becoming Endemic we need to reassess the how and why of making the business and personal sides of our lives co-exist in harmony, whether you are still working from home or have returned to the office. Achieving work-life balance is not easy and it’s not the same for everyone, but it is a necessity! All work and no play makes Jill and Jack frustrated, short-tempered, anxious and less healthy.
Start by scheduling time to do something not work-related every day. Short bursts of fifteen minutes to a half hour are a good place to start. Take a walk with family or friends before or after dinner, meditate, read, play a board game, or find something else to distract your mind away from the daily work routine. Certainly physical activity is healthier than being sedentary, but occupying your mind with something other than work is the primary objective. Do you have any hobbies that you’ve ignored for a while? Do you play a musical instrument? How about chess, checkers, Othello or backgammon? Do you enjoy playing card games (Solitaire doesn’t count!), or even video games played against those in your household? Dust off that exercise equipment that has become a clothes rack, do some yoga or other stretching and strengthening activity. How about dusting off that gym membership that you continue to pay for? It’s all good.
Like everything else that is important to your well-being, achieving a decent level of work-life balance takes time and effort, but the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. Start small, and build up the time and effort you commit. You will approach work and your other responsibilities with a new perspective. Your body and mind will appreciate the distraction from the stresses of work, and ultimately you’ll tip the scales to a happier and healthier you.
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