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Managing Stress, Finding Work-Life Balance

January 06, 2021

Work-life balance is an individual measurement and may vary daily, monthly and over extended periods of time. The right balance will differ as your lifestyle changes.

During this extended period of uncertainty, many of us face evolving and unique challenges as we try to figure out how to navigate the new realities of COVID-19. We may experience possible fear, stress and anxiety due to the continuous changes taking place, but it’s important to know that we all learn how to adapt and balance priorities at our own pace.

Why do we need me time?

Without quality personal time, not only will you run out of energy, slow down and be less productive, but soon you may find yourself underachieving in every life department, personal and professional, and your anxiety may increase exponentially. Several studies have shown that working long hours for extended periods of time have led to occurrences of physical and mental ailments including cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression.1 As a result, fatigue, absenteeism, lower productivity and organizational turnover rates tend to increase. According to Statistics Canada, a lack of work-life balance cost Canadian businesses a combined 20 billion dollars a year in health claims, lost productivity and absenteeism.2

Are you at risk of job burnout?

One of the most challenging changes for many may be working remotely. Learning how to find a work-life balance when you primarily work at home might be tricky. It is important to ensure you maintain a daily routine and take breaks when needed. By having your work so easily accessible, you may feel the need to “always be on,” but make sure you set limits and respect them. Resist the temptation to work beyond your set hours – you don’t want to burnout.

You may be more likely to experience job burnout if:

  • you identify so strongly with work that you lack a reasonable balance between your work-life and your personal life;
  • you try to be everything to everyone;
  • you feel you have little or no control over your work; and/or
  • you feel that some aspects of your job have become monotonous.

Preventing burnout:

Evaluate how you can change your current situation to reignite your enthusiasm.

  • Discuss your options with your supervisor and HR. What are the options for professional development within your company? Is there a way to explore careers in other departments? Perhaps your supervisor can help in giving you new challenges or changing expectations?
  • What gives you joy outside the workplace? Pursue your interests by taking online courses. Indulge in self-care practices, whether it be taking long walks, meditation or reading a book – enjoy what makes you happy.
  • Volunteer. Helping others is a great way to get a better perspective on life. There are still safe socially distancing ways to help others. Donate blood, see if elderly neighbours need groceries picked up, and donate to food banks.
  • Make a bucket list. Having and pursuing personal goals, no matter how trivial they may seem, can reignite your enthusiasm and can spill over into all areas of your life.
  • Seek support. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of poor work-life balance including but not limited to trouble concentrating, irritability, weakened coping skills, headaches and muscle stiffness, don’t ignore these potential warning signs. See your family doctor to rule out any underlying physical issues. Reach out to friends, loved ones or co-workers.

How to get additional free time for ourselves:

  • Wake up 30 minutes before the rest of your household to exercise, meditate or do something you enjoy.
  • Track, prioritize and respect your personal time as if it were on par with the importance you give to time allotted to work or devoted to family and people close to you.
  • Disconnect from email, social media, chat rooms, work-related communications and stressful news when appropriate.
  • Learn to say yes to yourself and no to others.
  • Remove guilt! It helps to remember that taking care of yourself through some me time will increase your energy, availability and patience.
  • Get rid of perfectionism! When you spend time on something you have to do but it is not very important, go for good enough instead of seeking perfection.

It might also be useful to use some reframing techniques to improve one’s perception of quality time. For example, me time doesn’t have to always mean alone time. Achieving work-life balance takes effort. It is important to practice work-life balance regularly to keep yourself on track with what is important in your life at that moment. With continued practice, you can create a roadmap to a life with less stress and focus on what’s important to you.

References:

  1. Editorial. “Another view: Worked to death.” TheRecord.com, TheRecord.com, 2 Nov. 2015, www.therecord.com/opinion-story/6077710-another-vi...
  2. Canada, E. A. (2017, February 16). Psychological Health in the Workplace. Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-develop...

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