The importance of rest in finding work-life balance

Recently we hear more and more about people struggling with finding work-life balance. We live in a world where our jobs are increasingly demanding, stressful and fast paced. I rarely hear someone saying that their job is laid back and fulfilling.

If you want to earn a decent salary, to not live paycheck to paycheck, most likely you have to work very hard.

I struggle with stress at work almost every day, and some days I just get home without any energy left in me. I feel so exhausted and worn out, that I don’t want to do anything. I just want to sleep, to run away and never come back to that job ever again.

I wake up every morning with an increased heart beat, anxious at what is to come ahead at work that day. Whenever I get close to my job place, I dread having to go there, I want to escape. I cry deep down, cursing this job and my life with it.

Does that sound overly dramatic? In this case let me congratulate you, you are one of the few who found the road to a happy and fulfilling job. Please share your secret with us. Unfortunately for me, and for many others, it is the reality of our daily lives.

And please spare me, with the positive outlook in life, with doing what you love and quit that job replica. I’ve heard and tried plenty, but let’s just say it’s not quite working for me.

While reading a book, I realized that me not wanting to go to work was not as much due to the stress or anxiety but to the lack of freedom. My job consumes me so much that I feel trapped, I don’t have time and energy to do something else, to enjoy life. In other words my work-life balance was broken.

Then I started to analyze things from another perspective. What in my job is consuming me and my time the most and I reached some conclusions that I would like to share with you.

  1. Don’t work after hours. I used to remain at work at least 30 min each day after hours. I wanted to finish up some task or prepare something for the next day. I believed this will make my following day easier. Unfortunately, that it’s not how it was. First, my productivity was very low after a long work day. Something that took me 10 min in the morning to complete, in the evening it took 30 min. Secondly, whenever I finished a task better and faster than expected, I received another one, maybe even more difficult. This strategy of mine only increased my workload and my stress levels. So I adopted this new principle, to not work after hours. I prefer to work more efficiently during the day, and enjoy every minute of my free time.
  2. Take breaks during the work day. I now religiously take my coffee breaks and my lunch break. My colleagues even joke if I poured myself coffee a minute later than scheduled. What concerns my lunch break, I never eat at my office or in front of my computer. I get out, no matter the weather (my colleagues joke about that too), go for a walk, enjoy a nice meal and detach myself for an hour from my job. It helps having lunch in good company.
  3. Do something you enjoy after work. Maximize your free time – read a book, listen to some nice music, exercise, go for a walk. Do what works best for you. Even when I do house chores, I put my headphones on and listen to some nice music or an audio book. Enjoy a meal with your loved one, family or friends. We have very little free time, and I am always shocked by the speed of things around me. I feel that I’m wasting my life for nothing, so I intend to live as many experiences and create as many memories as I can.
  4. Go on vacation! Don’t be that person that works year round without taking any holidays. Nobody is going to say thank you, you’re just going to burn out. Ideally, take a vacation away from home, visit some place you love! For me, there’s no better way to recharge my batteries. However often time, our finances have a final word when choosing our destination, but it does not matter. Even a few days stay in a nice cottage 30 min away from home will do the trick. The idea is to change the routine. You could even enjoy a staycation (stay at home vacation), and occasionally go to some nice coffee shop, library or whatever.

Rest is an essential element in finding work-life balance. If you’re tired and overworked you cannot enjoy life, therefore there is no balance.

As the wise men say, do the best of your time and your life, it’s the only one we have!