In what has become an increasingly connected world, where we can be contacted at all times of the day and almost anywhere in the world, the pressure to be available at the drop of a hat can be considerable.
But just because we have the means to always be available doesn’t mean that we always should be, far from it.
In an increasingly competitive workplace, we can often feel obliged to go above and beyond what should reasonably be expected of us in order to advance our career, or simply even keep our job. But this approach does neither you nor your employer any favours, as it is likely to lead to burnout and mental health issues, or at the very least, low employee morale.
Workplace stress is a very real problem in Australia
Are you one of the 84% of Australian workers who worry about their emotional wellbeing?i As working hours grow longer in Australia, associated stress and anxiety is on the rise. Approximately 21 per cent of Australians have taken time off work due to feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy, which has amounted to three or four sick days taken by these workers every month.ii
Symptoms associated with ill mental health, such as worry, sleeping difficulties and fatigue all negatively affect a worker’s ability to perform productively at work and ultimately lead to job dissatisfaction.
If this sounds like you, it’s time for you to take back control of your work life, and start to shift your mindset, so you’re able to better manage your stress levels. We’ve put together five techniques to help you on your way to achieving a healthier state of mind and improve your work-life balance.
1. Establish boundaries (and stick to them!)
Chances are, the more available you make yourself, the more people will take advantage of that. If you get into the habit of responding to emails and phone calls in your personal time, it will quickly become an expectation that you do so.
Avoid this predicament by leaving your emails alone once you leave the office – they will still be there for you in the morning. Don’t be afraid to turn your phone off either, or at least stop answering work calls, and soon enough people will get the message that your out of office time is your time, and will stop impinging on it.
2. Don’t be afraid to say no
It is important you learn how to say no. Every now and again, when your plate is piled high with deadlines and obligations, and you’re trying to cram too many activities into too little time, stress relief can be as straightforward as saying no. It’s important to remember that you’re not being selfish in this decision, but rather you’re honouring existing commitments and ensuring you devote high-quality time to them. While it won’t be easy saying no if you’re used to saying yes all the time, it’s an important practice to learn especially to help manage your stress and keep you mental health in check.
3. Take advantage of flexible workplace options
63% of workers believe that flexible work arrangements would help them better maintain their physical and mental health.iii While it is not possible for all professions to work remotely, it is very possible for most of us to have at least some degree of flexibility in how, where and when we work.
For those of us with children, pets, or a long commute, working from home can be a great way of restoring some balance to your working week and getting more things done, both for yourself and your employer.
If there are no flexible work options currently in place where you work, make the case for them with your boss. If you can demonstrate that it will be mutually beneficial to introduce flexible working practices, chances are they will be open to the idea. And if they are not, maybe it’s time to consider another employer that will respect your needs and emotional wellbeing, and be more flexible.
4. Don’t lose sight of your priorities
Remember why the vast majority of us work in the first place – to keep a roof over our head, pay the bills, and generally provide for ourselves and our family. Family should always come first, and work second. If we lose focus of that, we could end up hurting our relationships with the ones we love the most, and then what are we working for?
5. Have some fun, and have it often
Lastly, never lose sight of the idea that life should be fun. Remember to take care of yourself, which includes eating a healthy diet, exercising and regularly doing the things you love to do. So set aside plenty of time to see that show, go to that sporting event, read that book, take that holiday, meet with friends and have quality time with your family. Life is for living, so live it well.
It’s important to take steps to improve your work-life balance and protect your mental wellbeing if you’re feeling stressed. Remember, there is always plenty of help available if you are struggling with your mental health. We recommend seeking help from a professional or calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.
i MetLife. (2016). Employee Benefit Trends Study. Accessed online from https://www.metlife.com.au/campaigns/ebts/
ii BeyondBlue. (2014). State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. Accessed online from https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl1270-report—tns-the-state-of-mental-health-in-australian-workplaces-hr.pdf?sfvrsn=8
iii EmploymentHero. (2018). What Australian Employees Want From Their Workplace. Accessed online from https://employmenthero.com/blog/hr/new-research-reveals-employees-care-just-pay/
The information and any advice in this article does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. When considering whether to acquire a financial product, before making any decision, you should obtain the relevant product disclosure statement.