PEIL magazine

Winter 2012

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Page 35 of 71

HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE Work-Life Balance – Does It Even Exist? I n today's Ireland more and more people are working longer and working harder. This is understandable when we are constantly hearing about job loss and financial worries, but we also have to remember to look after ourselves and our loved ones – not financially, but emotionally. The reality or work is that for most people, they do it out of necessity; to pay the bills, to put food on the table, to be able to live a comfortable lifestyle. All this is fine, work is a necessity, but what we need to remember is, to allow ourselves time to live, as well as work. Work and places of employment can be places full of stress, worry, anxiety, competition and tension, all of which are a fact of life, but all of which can also lead to serious health (both mental and physical) problems if we experience them in abundance. So what exactly is a Work-Life Balance? Is it something that only exists in the world of daytime TV self-help discussions or is it a real and tangible entity? Firstly a Work-Life Balance does exist in real life but it will look and feel very different to each individual depending on their priorities. If you imagine the balance as a simple see-saw. 'Work', the necessity is on one side, while 'Life', the other things that an individual values are on the other side. Everybody's 'Life' will contain different things. The idea behind a Work-Life Balance is that you do not let the 'Work' side of the see-saw outweigh the 'Life'. This can be difficult to achieve but often when people find that balance that lets them lead healthier lives while still maintaining productivity at work they can't understand how they ever lived any other way. 34 A very clear symptom that the 'Work' side is getting too heavy is when work is coming home with you. This could be in the literal sense i.e. doing work while at home, or in the mental sense, i.e. constantly thinking about work when you are not working. Often it is the thinking about work that can really place extra stress on people. They may work specific 9-5 jobs, but yet when they have walked out of the office and are sitting at home at night or at the weekend, their head is still in work. This is one of the most unproductive states – the individual is at home so therefore cannot even do anything about the work issues that are causing stress and they cannot enjoy their time off as their minds are consumed with work-related anxiety. What we all want really is to be able to go to work, work in a productive and focused manner so we get our job done and can leave the workplace feeling good about ourselves and confident that we can switch off and enjoy ourselves. How many people can say that they experience this on a regular basis?

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