Life is stressful, especially during the years that we are having children. Typically, we are still getting started in our careers, establishing rhythms with our spouses (if applicable), and trying to have some sort of personal life as well.
My children are currently 7 years old and 18 months old. I work a full-time job, and run another business on the side (only requires part-time). Additionally, I do some coaching and consulting, so to say that my plate is full is an understatement.
One of the most important things I have learned about balancing work/life is to determine the opportunities I have to make the most impact, both in my work, and with my family. Sorting through life thinking about the efforts that we make that provide the largest pay-offs can really help us to maximize our time with our children.
It can certainly be stressful having children, but it certainly doesn't have to. I would be happy to discuss this further if you'd like to schedule a phone call and I can help you think through your schedule and see if we can identify a better strategy and rhythm for your life.
Work life balance is important for everyone because life in these Covid-19 times is incredibly stressful. Modern day stress seems to be more widespread than ever and many of the reasons are obvious, such as more work by less people, financial uncertainty, job insecurity, constant performance measurement, the increasing requirement for instant information or response, impossible targets, juggling work/home priorities, the downsides of cyberspace technology, the depressing state of affairs in many parts of the world and much more besides. Another reason sometimes suggested is that, thanks to far reaching research, so much more is known about the subject now and some will suggest that this encourages unhealthy circumspection. I take the point but suggest it underlines the need to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject rather than a superficial one. There might be many reasons to be stressful as most of us are working form home. These reasons are as follows:
1. Being set unrealistic deadlines
2. The state of my teenager’s bedroom
3. People not calling me back
4. 300 e-mails waiting for me after two days away
5. My boss ignoring me
6. The traffic jams on my way to work
7. Colleagues’ idle chatter when we are all so busy
8. Old ladies holding everyone up at the check-out
9. Multi choice telephone answering systems
10. People who do not seem to care
11. My next-door neighbour’s cat
12. Pointless meetings which go on for ever
Given the premise that we have choice in the extent to which we allow everyday frustrations and setbacks to affect our mood, it follows that our perceptions of such matters are vital and of course these can vary alarmingly from day to day, influenced by what else has been going on at work, home, or even the journey between the two. A challenging situation today may give us a buzz, whereas the identical situation tomorrow might be a burden. The dual recognition that (a) we have choice of perception and (b) that we can often be our own worst enemy are not easy to remember when we are having a bad day.
It is a common misconception that some level of stress is a good thing, but you will find very few academics supporting this view. It is a grey area because of the semantics of the words we use. We all benefit at times from experiencing pressure in our lives, but if we feel broadly in control of it, then it is not stress we are experiencing. Pressure can be invaluable in helping us to concentrate and to focus. Some of the physiological consequences of stress can be valuable when they are anticipated. A professional firefighter entering a burning building might be experiencing a thrust of extra physical strength and consciousness, as might a sprinter pushing off the blocks. But they understand this short-lived advantage, feel in control of it and can turn it to their advantage. Stress in itself is not an illness, but it can readily be the trigger for some physical health problem. There is, however, a notable exception in cases of prolonged burnout which might result in the mental stability of the individual being impaired permanently. Conversely, some of the most relaxed individuals I have met have told me they were only that way as a result of their experience of burnout and their subsequent resolve to change their outlook on life: ‘I’m never going there again’.
There are common signs of stress, these are as follows:
1. Physical signs:
1. palpitations – throbbing heart
2. pain and tightness in the chest
6. muscle twitches
8. headache, vague aches or pains
9. skin irritation or rashes, susceptibility to allergies
10. clenched fists or jaw
11. feeling faint
12. frequent colds, flu or other infections
13. recurrence of previous illnesses
14. constipation or diarrhoea
15. rapid weight gain or loss
16. alteration of the menstrual pattern in women
2. Emotional signs:
1. swings in mood
2. increased worrying
3. feeling tense
4. drained, no enthusiasm
5. feeling angry, guilty
7. feeling nervous, apprehensive, anxious
8. feelings of helplessness
9. loss of confidence and self-esteem
10. lack of concentration, withdrawal into daydreams
3. Behavioural signs:
2. poor work
3. increased dependence on nicotine, alcohol, or drugs
4. overeating or loss of appetite
5. change in sleep pattern, difficulty in getting to sleep and waking tired
6. loss of interest in sex
7. impaired speech
8. withdrawal from supportive relationships
10. taking work home more
11. too busy to relax
12. not looking after oneself
13. speeding up – talking, walking, eating, drinking
Can you relate to any of the following? If so, select a few changes and experiment with moving towards a more balanced life. Even small steps can make a real difference.
1) Work/home interface. Could you spend less time at work, at least on certain days of the week? If you must take work home, try excluding certain days of the week. Never take work home without the resolve to get it done that evening. It’s fatal to take it thinking, ‘I’ll see how I feel.’ You probably will not get it done and then you will feel guilty and your self-worth will have taken a knock.
2) What are weekends for? If you have used your weekend to really enhance your work/life balance in whatever way suits you, then early on Sunday evening you may experience the STB. The Sunday Teatime Blip is when the refreshing diversion of the weekend ends abruptly at the spectre of work in the morning. You are now at work in your head and your weekend break has ended prematurely. A good way to avoid this unhelpful state is to plan some activity or social get-together for the evening so that your mind is less likely to wander to work.
3) Contactable at home? Other than in really exceptional cases, is it really necessary? Perhaps you cannot stop your boss, but what about your team? Are you that indispensable? Perhaps it makes you feel good? Perhaps they are just playing to your ego and letting you take decisions they should be taking themselves?
4) Time management away from work: Are you happy with your time management outside work? Maybe it suits you to have no plan and just chill out for an evening or a weekend. Perhaps that is just what you need for once and it will do you good. But the law of reality dictates that you always have some household matters outstanding. You may be the sort who likes to deal with them before you can really relax or maybe you take the view that it can wait until you feel like it. Why does today something which can wait until tomorrow? All that matters is that you protect yourself from self-induced stress by arranging your time and responsibilities away from work in such a way that you do not feel bad about it.
5) Exercise, relaxation, diet, pride in your appearance and physical condition: It would be tedious and not appreciated if I laboured these issues on which so many magazines seem to thrive. In the context of this book, the only point to make is that all such things play a bigger part in one’s wellbeing than is generally realized. The close relationship between stress and how you feel about yourself is obvious.
6) Holidays: Do you always take your full annual allocation? It is misguided not to do so.
7) Journey home. Allow yourself to be debriefing on the day up to a halfway landmark and then focus on what awaits you at home.
8) Get those clothes off: Change into something different as soon as you get home. To some it may seem of little consequence, but it is good psychology. Home is home.
9) Leave a Friday evening list: On a Friday evening leave a brief list of the main things which will require your attention on the following Monday and then forget about them.
Wish you a good health. Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath
My husband and I both work from home and have a 2.5 y/o. I wouldn't say the word for it is "stressful" but it is oftentimes hectic and always busy. Your time is not always your own and that can make you feel overwhelmed. It is important to take breaks and take the time to do something for yourself every day (not just work). Sometimes this means working at night or working during a nap. It helps to have an employer that understands your situation (this is hard to find, I know). If you have a partner that lives with you, I would suggest dividing up tasks (daily, weekly, whatever works for you) and printing it out in a visible place (front door, fridge, bedroom door, bathroom mirror) and check off errands as they are done. We make a little competition out of it and the winner gets a 10 min massage at the end of the week!