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The Need for Work/Life Balance

The Need for Work/Life Balance


    Do you work over 40 hours a week and still feel like you can’t get everything done? We have all been there. You are sitting at your desk saying…

    “If I just could work 3 more hours today, or 10 more hours this week I could get all this work done.”

    Then you sit there hour after hour, day after day and the work is still there, but you are more stressed out because your productivity has gotten even worse. Why, you wonder, is this happening?

    We all think the solution is to just work more hours. While this sometimes works in the short term, it can have dire consequences in the long run. The problem with such long hours of focused concentration is the burnout that we have all experienced at one time or another. Especially if you are a freelancer, you have to be extra conscious of how you spend your time and you can’t afford to make these mistakes. You don’t have the security of a regular job – if you are not putting in the time, you are not getting paid. However, at the same time you don’t want overwork yourself up to the point where you are burned out.

    Balance of uptime and downtime

    We all need to strike a balance between our work lives and our personal lives. It is far better to have eight hours of productive, focused work than 16 hours of unfocused staring at the screen. As much as we would like to think that we can work 24/7 if we just put our minds to it – we can’t. Balance in your life means you are well rested, you don’t feel the need for coffee or stimulants to keep you going and you are able to focus on your own. You will generally feel everything is doable and you don’t have any excessive stress.

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    When we talk about balance in our lives we are talking about the proportions of uptime and downtime in our daily routine. Uptime is anything that requires you to think. This is what we all do when we are “working.” These are traditionally “left brain” activities such as processing emails, taking notes and analyzing information.

    Downtime is anything you consider “fun” and does not require a lot of conscious thought. However, this need for balance can be a subjective idea. One person’s downtime could be another’s work drudgery and vice versa.

    Switch it up

    It is important to actively schedule breaks into our work day. Make sure they are short periods of true mental disengagement. Professional athletes call this performing “dissociative activities.” They know they need to balance periods of extreme concentration with a completely different activity. If you could see the locker rooms of many pro athletes during breaks on practice days, you would see them playing video games or watching movies. Even though their bodies are still clad in their uniforms their brains are completely removed from the previous tasks and are completely focused on something else.

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    These activities may seem to us to be mindless and without real purpose. You may think playing a short computer game on your computer during work hours when you have a 10 minute break is not a good use of your time, but it is the changing of thought patterns that is exactly what your neural pathways need.

    When we are trying to insert these types of activities into our daily personal lives we can do things in our off hours such as getting a massage, catching up with friends, shopping or learning a new skill. Using the right side of the brain in creative pursuits such as art can be tremendously relaxing for this very reason.

    The need for balance varies from person to person and depends on your attention span. Find out how much balance you need. During the work day, experiment on small breaks at different times and find what works best for you. Most people need 15 minutes of rest every 90 minutes of work in a day, and at least one day a week, and one week a quarter off. When you discover the pattern of breaks and rest that allows you to remain focused and productive you will have reduced your stress level and you will have more consistency in your daily routines. This self-management tip is key for your personal success and I hope that you will incorporate this into your life.

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    (Photo credit: Scales with Work and Life via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2018

    Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

    Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

    “Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

    While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

    1. Dehydration

    If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

    If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

    You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

    2. Lack Of Exercise

    A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

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    Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

    3. A Poor Diet

    The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

    An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

    Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

    4. Skipping Breakfast

    Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

    Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

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    Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

    Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

    5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

    We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

    TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

    Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

    Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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    6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

    Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

    Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

    If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

    7. Depression

    Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

    Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

    Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

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    8. Hypothyroidism

    If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

    Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

    9. Anemia

    People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

    However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

    While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

    10. Cancer

    While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

    Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

    Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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