When we think of work-life balance, the phrase “work hard, play harder” may be what first comes to mind and what we may assume work-life balance is about. This isn’t entirely wrong, but it misses an important point.
Better health should be a goal as we strive to achieve work-life balance. Good health eliminates stress, which can be responsible for various illnesses that keep us from enjoying life. As such, we shouldn’t mistake work-life balance as permission to get wasted all the time and call it “living to the fullest.” Detrimental habits may give us short-term pleasure, which ultimately gains us nothing.
The Impact of Stress on Health
Our bodies have a natural self-defense system called the fight-or-flight response, which gets activated when we’re faced with a threatening situation. This instinct lets us use our muscles quickly to outrun potential danger. But if we’re constantly stressed, the fight-or-flight response can short-circuit, triggering it to say activated and cause the hypothalamus to release adrenaline and cortisol.
You may be familiar with adrenaline as the “rush” we feel when we’re excited or terrified. Cortisol, on the other hand, is a stress hormone that slows down nonessential bodily functions so that we can store our energies to defend ourselves from danger.
Those functions don’t sound so bad, as they’re exactly what we need to escape harm, but the problem lies when this response stays on. Stressors temporarily suspend our reproductive, digestive, and immune systems, making them vulnerable to diseases.
Stress-related illnesses include heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression, skin conditions, sleep troubles, digestive issues, memory impairment, and obesity.
If you’ve been wondering why you’re not losing weight despite skipping meals because of too much work, it’s likely the fault of stress, since it makes you crave for sugary and fatty food. The fight-or-flight response also triggers impulses to overeat, which you may be unwittingly doing after hours of sitting with your stomach empty.
Improving Health and Work-life Balance
One of the ways to achieve work-life balance is to effectively manage health and stress. You may do this by getting back in shape because exercising is known to help release a happy hormone called endorphin, which can reduce stress.
However, losing weight isn’t always a healthy journey. Many people fall for diet fads that do more harm than good, causing them to develop more serious health conditions. Hence, it’s important to consider availing of the services of a reputable personal health coach instead of simply relying on the Internet for weight and stress management solutions. Professionals can make you a health plan tailored for your needs and goals, benefiting both your body and mind.
If you also struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, seek therapy as well because simply eating right and exercising may not be enough to heal your mind. If it’s a chronic illness you’re dealing with, make time to consult a doctor regularly. Note that you have you make time, not find it. Achieving work-life balance can involve occasionally calling in sick or leaving the workplace early, as it’s all about prioritizing your health, not your job.
Don’t hesitate to unplug and meditate from time to time, too. Stop checking work emails once you get home, and take advantage of your vacation leaves by taking enriching trips.
Being healthier makes you a better employee. If you get sick less often, it means that your productivity levels improve. But be careful not to be consumed by your excellent results. Remember to equally sustain your personal life, too.