Overwork is an all too common problem in the U.S. Because of our country’s pervasive culture of overwork, many of us view working ourselves to exhaustion as something commendable.
There was a good joke I just heard about the obsessive work culture in the USA.
When Europeans go on a vacation their automatic email message says “We are on a vacation, we are hiking and we do not use internet. Be back in one month and will reply then.”
When Americans go on a vacation their automatic message says “Sorry, I am gone for 2 hours on a heart surgery but if it’s important call me on my second phone I will provide the number below this email.”
Even though it’s a joke, it clearly portrays the difference in the work life balance between Europeans and Americans. And we can see what way of life is more unhealthy.
The problem is, in the USA this is considered normal.
As a result, a good chunk of the workforce never truly clocks out or adheres to set work hours.
Despite only being paid for a certain number of hours per week, many Americans are expected to work well beyond the standard 40 hours. Unsurprisingly, this type of culture is hardly conducive to maintaining a healthy work life balance, but extremely conducive to mounting stress levels.
So, if your approach to working has made it impossible to maintain any semblance of a normal life, you’d be wise to consider the following measures.
4 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Work Life Balance:
1. Set Boundaries with Bosses and Coworkers.
A lack of clearly defined boundaries can be a huge contributor to workplace stress. In the absence of boundaries, professional colleagues are likely to saddle you with unreasonable demands and unmanageable workloads.
To nip this in the bud, let your bosses know exactly how much work you’re capable of delivering in a given workday and request that they abstain from expecting anything beyond this quota.
Furthermore, if you have any coworkers who are constantly pawning their responsibilities off on you, be firm but polite in informing them that their work is not your work.
This isn’t to say that you can never lend a hand to a colleague in need, but if you put yourself out there as a doormat, don’t be surprised if the people you work with take full advantage of this.
If you’re inexperienced with regard to speaking up for yourself, setting clear boundaries at work, or in other areas of life, may strike you as daunting.
While setting boundaries may present a bit of a challenge for dedicated people pleasers, it’s a necessary step in preventing your life from being overtaken by work.
2. Leave Work at the Office.
Upon arriving at the office, the workday begins, and upon leaving the office, it ends. While this may seem like a no brainer, a staggering number of workers have come to regard their personal time as additional work time.
Because of the way working oneself to the bone is revered in the U.S., some people never truly clock out of their jobs. Sure, you may leave the office at night, but upon returning home, they simply begin another phase of the workday.
Since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary from the many stressors of the outside world, treating it as a second office is hardly conducive to rest or relaxation.
If you’re regularly given workloads that are too large to finish within the confines of eight hour workdays, your bosses need to rethink their desired time frames instead of requiring you to take work home with you.
3. Switch to Remote Work.
Although bringing work home with you is ill advised, working from the comfort of home instead of reporting to an office can alleviate a tremendous amount of job related stress.
As many businesses and members of the workforce discovered during the pandemic, the importance of formal workplaces has been vastly overstated.
Many desk jobs can be done effectively and efficiently from home, so if commutes and office politics are major stress triggers, request the privilege of working remotely.
4. Talk to a Therapist.
A good therapist can be an invaluable ally in the quest to maintain a healthy work life balance.
The right therapist will help you identify your most prominent stress triggers, increase your confidence and provide you with the tools you’ll need to tackle job stress in the future. As an added bonus, anyone in the market for remote therapy can find a bevy of convenient options.
For example, Land of Lincoln residents interested in remote therapy should fire up their preferred search engines and seek out “online therapy Illinois”.
What you should remember:
Working is a consistent source of stress for countless people. This is particularly true in countries like the U.S., where overwork is celebrated instead of regarded as something undesirable.
Due to the way working oneself silly is revered in the United States, many members of the workforce find themselves under constant pressure to over perform, which can lead to professional burnout and have a host of negative effects on long term mental health.
Anyone interested in treating work as a part of their life instead of their entire existence is likely to benefit from the pointers discussed above.