How to stop work from taking over your life

''Downtime is vital for a healthy work-life balance''
African American business woman with computer and coffee

Workplace issues can take their toll.

If you start to feel like work is taking over your life or a work issue is getting you down, it’s best to address it early rather than letting things get worse.

Try these steps for getting the balance back:

Limit extra working hours:

Work commitments can get crazy sometimes, but when long hours become the norm rather than the exception, it can negatively impact our health. If this sounds like you, have a chat with your manager first.

Schedule meetings during work hours:

Arranging meetings to begin and end only within core working hours will help to ensure your precious ‘out-of-hours’ time is protected.

Take regular breaks:

A solid bit of graft is rewarding, but being busy all the time will ultimately lead to burnout. There’s more research than you can shake a stick at that says taking breaks, both physical and mental, can boost our productivity.

Try not to take work home:

Adding an extra hour or two at home to tidy up a work project can quickly become a habit, but again, think of it as the exception and not the rule. Downtime is vital for a healthy work-life balance.

Take your holiday leave:

A complete break from work has big mental and physical health benefits. Taking a holiday can help to reduce work-related stress, prevent anxiety and depression, and increase work performance and productivity.

It’s okay to say ‘no’:

It can be difficult to say, but ‘no’ isn’t a dirty word as far as your workload is concerned. Be genuine and state your reasons clearly. In the long run, the outcome will be more positive, and you’ll be in a better position to say yes the next time.

Have a tech ‘switch off’ time:

Resist the pressure to look at work emails outside of work hours. This can be a creeping habit in lots of workplaces – lead by example and don’t let the late-night email scroll become part of your work culture.

Make use of EAP:

Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees with personal and work-related issues that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Explore flexible working arrangements where possible:

Making work fit better into your day-to-day life can help to improve your general wellbeing. Work closely and negotiate with your employer – you will need to be able to do your job in an effective manner that works for both of you.

For more information and resources on managing your mental health, see lifeline.org.nz (or call 0800 543 354) or wellplace.nz.

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