The Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences publishes a monthly blog written by students, alumni and faculty sharing important topics and helpful resources related to the fields of agricultural, extension and human science. In the May blog post, AEE doctoral student Taylor Jones, discusses how to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Honestly, there is no one right answer or way to achieve “perfect” balance in your life. I know as a young professional myself, I am always learning new ways to help keep my life in check with all that is going on around me. While there are a few things that we all can do to limit stress, maintain a healthy working environment, build healthy personal relationships, and squeeze in some hobbies, everyone has to find out what works best for them. Keep in mind that what someone does to keep themselves sane, may not necessarily work for you. The key is to try out different things that you find helpful, and stick to that routine. Here are a few of my tips that help me maintain a healthy work-life balance. Bearing in mind, that this is always a work in progress.
I think of work and life as two separate entities, so that is how these tips are organized.
- Pause & Make a Plan: not every day at work has to be jam packed with getting things done every second from 8AM to 5PM. Take the time at the beginning of each day to set reasonable goals for yourself. Make a checklist of things that must get done, and things that you can work on to make your life easier down the road. The better prepared you are, and the more intentional you are about accomplishing things, the less stress you will experience at work.
- Communicate: Your efficacy and effectiveness can only be as good as your communication with yourself and others. Be sure to let others know when you are in a bind, or simply need a few minutes to close your office door and finish a project. Also, be honest with yourself and know when too much is too much.
- Take 5 and be human: It is okay to take a break at work. One thing I take very seriously is my lunchbreak. Everyone is encouraged to take one, but not everyone does. If you don’t take any other breaks during the day, take your lunchbreak. By taking your lunchbreak, I mean LEAVE your office. Whether you go outside on a nice day, or ride around listening to the radio, or actually go get lunch, leave your office. When you leave your office for lunch, you allow yourself to let work stress go for a bit while you take some time for yourself. It is okay to be human and to need some repose.
- Unplug and unwind: Cut off your technology. Cut it off. One thing I did that was super helpful for my work-life balance was disconnect my work email from my phone. I never looked back. Another way you can unplug is simply use the time you would normally spend on email, social media, etc. and use that time to tune into your hobby, or learning a new skill. Read a book, go outside, garden, exercise. Just unplug from our technology-driven world for a bit to unwind every day at home.
- Schedule family/relationship time: Put it on your calendar. Tonight I will go to dinner with my wife, I will attend my son’s baseball game, things like that. Put it on your calendar and treat it just as important as a meeting with your boss or client. If you do not make time for these things now, you may not get the chance later. Be that family member/friend you want others to be for yourself.
- Stay Active, treat your body right, & seek help if needed: Take 30 minutes a day, morning or evening, and get some exercise. Whether it is a walk around the block, or a spin class, get your body moving for at least 30 minutes a day. Research shows that this helps keep our mind, body, and spirit healthy. When they are healthy, we feel better. Take that time. Similarly, make healthy food choices. Feed your body the fuel it needs. You can treat yourself every now and then to a treat, but make sure the majority of what you put into your body is wholesome, nutritious, and delicious. Lastly, if you need help with any of your health, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, reach out to a professional. There are so many resources as a professional as well as a student, that you can tap into to get extra help in maintaining your health. Do it sooner rather than later.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to achieve a positive work-life balance. It is all in what works for you, and how much effort you put into finding that balance. Always know there are resources and outlets for you to utilize should you find yourself out of balance. The dynamic, professional folks at our Student Health Services can help you.