A healthy work/life balance? 3 pitfalls and 1 golden tip

It is perhaps the greatest challenge for working people: maintaining the balance between professional and private life. To get and keep this balance healthy, it is important to be aware of the pitfalls. And there are many. In this blog, we will discuss the three most important ones. We also give another golden tip to help you determine for yourself whether you are still OK.  

Pitfall 1: being overwhelmed because of lack of structure 

We are inundated daily with information, tasks, and other people’s expectations. There is often a lack of habits, structure, planning, and communication. Consequence: things go wrong. Because everyone walks around with different expectations. And if no clear agreements are made within a solid structure, this can be a recipe for disaster. So, make sure there is enough structure and planning so that misunderstandings (and the consequences of these) do not stand a chance. 

Pitfall 2: Staying in your comfort zone for too long 

Staying in your comfort zone is human. It gives you the illusion of peace and control. But if you stay there too long, everything becomes boring and predictable. You may start projecting this feeling onto other aspects of your life, such as your relationship. So don’t make it too easy for yourself. And regularly take yourself out of your comfort zone by doing something less familiar, for example. Compare it to juggling: dropping the ball every now and then is part of the process and keeps you on your toes. 

Pitfall 3: not enough self-care 

Self-care means paying sufficient attention to sleep, nutrition, exercise and leisure. The latter is especially important because it is your recovery time. Make sure you get a healthy mix of exercise and time to literally do nothing. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day ensures that substances associated with stress are reduced in the brain. But also just doing nothing and watching the grass grow is extremely beneficial. Nowadays, we don’t do this nearly often enough because we are all constantly focusing on our smart devices. However, it is an excellent way to clear your head. 

Top tip: check in with yourself 

How do you keep track of yourself to avoid slipping into an unhealthy work-life balance or an overly stressful work situation without noticing it? Simple: schedule fifteen minutes for yourself on the 1st day of each month. Start with the ideal quadrant exercise and see if you are still doing the right things to achieve the right level of satisfaction. 

Then check your stress level. A good way of doing this is by calculating your APGAR score. This is a number from 1 to 10 that is used in neonatology to assess the health of newborn babies.  

You can use an alternative Apgar test to determine whether you are experiencing toxic stress. You can keep track of your stress levels by answering the questions below. If you answer “yes” to more than 2 of the 5 questions, it is time to act. Try to figure out what it is that throws you off balance and talk about it with your supervisor. 

  1. Appearance: Is there a sudden change in your appearance, weight, sleeping pattern, or substance use? 
  1. Performance: Do you feel like you are suddenly over or underperforming? 
  1. Growth tension: Can and do you want to take in new information? 
  1. Affect control: Can you control your emotions and frustrations? 
  1. Relationships: Is there a sudden noticeable change in social interactions? 

Note: this test has no diagnostic value. It is only a tool to help you recognize in time that you are possibly overstepping your boundaries.