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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life
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Balancing work and family life is one of the most common sources of stress for working adults. In this productivity-driven society that we are living in, more and more people are finding it hard to adequately fulfill their roles both at home and at the workplace.

More often than not, people are unable to find a point of balance between their careers and their families and one is given more priority than the other. This behavior has been associated with a number of dysfunctional outcomes—strained familial relationships, inefficiency at work, and poor physical and mental health.

Hence, it is very important that we are able to work on balancing work and family life[1]. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible if you take the time and care to make it a priority. Here are some steps to help you get started.

1. Make Balance a Priority

Achieving work life balance, whether you work full time or part time, is a long and often difficult process. If you do not make the conscious decision to achieve balance, it is likely that you will fail along the way. I have learned through my experience that it is very important to make an effort to provide yourself the opportunity for balance.

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For instance, you need to find a job that is challenging but not overwhelming; also, carefully think about how big of a family you can responsibly raise at the moment. By making wise decisions on the most important matters in your life, attaining balance won’t be a difficult thing.

If you are already settled into a career and have a growing family, you can still make small changes that will help you achieve balance. This could include requesting more flexible work hours, reorganizing the responsibilities you share at home, or bringing in trusted friends and family to help pick up the slack. 

2. Talk to Your Family

I used to think that I was the only one who could solve my work versus family life conundrum. However, over time I realized that there is no way for me to get things right if I only rely on my perspective. Since then, I’ve made it a point to have discussions with my family[2] regarding their perceptions, opinions, and even objections to my work and how much I’m focusing on it.

These discussions opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me more aware of the issues that I needed to improve. I also made sure that the entire family understood my obligations and responsibilities at work. Thus, there was also more understanding on their part.

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Once you spend time conversing and allow your family to have a say in how you’re tackling the balance between work and family in your life, you’ll find they have a lot of helpful feedback. Also, when they feel heard, they will react better when you have to stay late at work one evening or have to leave the dinner table early to finish a big project. Make sure the communication flows constantly.

3. Allow Others to Help You

There are times when balance is more difficult to achieve. Maybe you’re vying for a promotion at work, or you have a huge project for a client due before the weekend. Once you’ve communicated those problems to your family, it may be time to bring in some help.

Most people have friends or family that are willing to help out. Make sure these are people you trust to handle tasks like brining your children to sports practices or picking them up from school. In most instances, they’ll be happy to pick up the slack for a week or two.

If you’re not sure how to start asking for help, check out this article.

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4. Establish Boundaries Between Work and Family

It is important that we create boundaries between work and family. This means determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable. Boundaries hold the line to protect your work from the distraction of family, as well as to protect your family from the obligations at work. With clear boundaries, it is easier for you to tell when your action is not in favor of one aspect of your life.

For example, you and your family may set a rule that no one is allowed to use a cell phone at the table. This will help your older children, but it will also help you avoid taking work calls during dinner[3]. You may also decide not to check emails while on vacation.

This can be difficult, but it may be a necessary step to help your family feel like a priority and draw a firm line between work and home. The TED talk below may help you find inspiration to achieve the work-life balance you’re seeking.

5. Accept That Imbalance Is Sometimes Unavoidable

During my struggle to attain balance between work and family, I realized that there will always be times that I will have to let work or family take priority. It would be impossible to perfectly balance everything in your life at all times.

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For example, when a family member is sick, you may need to skip a work event. Or when an important deadline must be met, you might need to miss dinner at home and stay working late at the office. 

The most important thing is that you don’t allow imbalance to become the norm. The scale may tip for a few days or weeks, so the key is to bring it as close to the center as possible once you have the space to do so.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to balance work and family life isn’t easy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person and family must find specific solutions to their issues depending on their own preferences and needs.

Essentially, a balance between work and family occurs when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work. There is nothing wrong with working hard to get ahead, but don’t forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most.

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More Tips on Work-Life Balance

Featured photo credit: Andre Jackson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Academy of Management Review: Achieving Work-Family Balance: An Action Regulation Model
[2] Conversation Skills Core: 5 Tips for Better (& Easier) Family Conversation
[3] International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction: Out of Work, Out of Mind? Smartphone Use and Work-Life Boundaries

More by this author

Kara Heissman

Kara is passionate about sharing her self-improvement insights to help more people.

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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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