How many times have we heard the phrase getting the balance right; what does this even mean? If we look up the word balance in the dictionary we will find 18 definitions, depending of course on the way in which the word is used. The context of a work/life balance also depends on individual circumstance and attitude; whether we are single or married, studying, self-employed, contracting, FIFO, caring for someone or raising a family.
To assess if we have a healthy work/life balance, firstly identify the prominence of work in your situation and how do you define work? Does it challenge/drive you, is it enjoyable, does it provide a sense of satisfaction/purpose or is it just a means to an end? Let’s be realistic and honest, for most of us if we don’t work, we don’t get paid, if we don’t get paid, we can’t live the life we want or do the things we enjoy. It’s always a bit of a mix and getting the balance right is important.
The life side of things for most of us is usually enjoying some form of interaction with others. This can happen through our hobbies, sport, children, family, religious congregation, social and community groups, or by volunteering (ironically work can also provide interaction with others).
The best fit when considering work/life balance is to have these two areas well-proportioned and harmonious. It’s important for us blokes to remember that there is more to our lives than just our jobs and we must be encouraged to invest in the other areas of our lives.
This work/life balance can be disturbed when we are under pressure or feeling distressed by events in our life. It is common for blokes to disengage from others and try to solve problems and deal with stressors alone. Unfortunately, by doing this we remove ourselves from valuable support systems, which in turn creates and exacerbates feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s important to remember during difficult times to maintain and re-engage with social opportunities as this is a significant part of positive mental health, coping and overall wellbeing. Something as simple as taking time out, talking, having a laugh with others and even if we are busy, making time to have that game of bowls or connecting with our kids or partner, is essential to get the work/life balance back on track.
Having a busy life may lead us to feel that there is more to do than what seems reasonable in any given day. We all get equal measures of time, there is 24 hours in a day for everyone. Why then, is it that for some of us 24 hours never seems enough, while others seem to have plenty of time? Perhaps we need to ask ourselves is time the problem, or is it our ability to manage our time? How much we have on our plate varies throughout the year, so we need to be aware to continually monitor our time to ensure that for most of the year we have a well-proportioned and harmonious work/life balance.
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative