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How to achieve a work-life balance in social care

This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and what a better time to write and raise awareness of how to achieve a better work-life balance.

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Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
13/5/2022
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

The importance of a work-life balance

Have you ever felt like you spend more time at work or with your colleagues than your family and friends? Is work slowly taking over and you’re starting to lose a grip on the time you have to do the things that you enjoy? Most of us have or will experience this and it's important that we take a step back.

A work-life balance can help to reduce stress, which in the long run prevents burnout. I want you to ask yourself, how many times have you heard or seen someone is off work with stress?

It’s the most common health issue in the workplace and can lead to many health issues such as aches, pains, poor mental health, depression, anxiety, heart problems and can play havoc with your digestion.

I'm glad to say, I’ve now achieved a work-life balance, but I often get asked, "Why did you do it?" and "What does it look like?"

The simple answer is I did it for me and my family (have a read of my blog reflecting back on the year for more insights), and the second answer is that it can look like anything you want it to – there isn’t a one size fits all model.

For example, your work-life balance could be working four days a week or it could be making sure you have uninterrupted lunch breaks. It could even be that the company you work for has the same vision and values as you, or it may just be something as big as you being in a role that compliments your personal life.

"If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we need to value the time we have as we don’t know what’s around the corner!"

How to achieve a work-life balance  

Below are some steps you can take to achieve a better work-life balance.

Be realistic

You can’t expect a work-life balance overnight - despite all the articles you can read online. A balance is something that takes time otherwise it isn’t achievable.

It’s about considering the things that are important to you, setting priorities for these and making an action plan to how you can achieve this.

Try to delegate

If you're like me, you’ll enjoy your job and the numerous responsibilities that come with it. But it can be difficult to delegate or give other people tasks until you’re confident the next person is going to do it to the same standard as you do.

So, what can you do? Set yourself small goals and work towards larger ones. This could be passing on simpler tasks, and building your confidence to give others larger responsibility.

Take breaks

This is so important, and one point I can’t stress enough. I’ve been to the point of burnout and it’s incredibly hard to get your head back into the place you want it to be.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s this - put in at least a 10-minute break into your working day somewhere within the next 24 hours and make sure you don’t allow anyone to take that time away.

When that break comes, leave your desk and do something for you, not for anyone else. It may be that you go and read a book, do some gardening, go to a shop or even just chill on your phone. The importance of this is to have a break from your work with no distractions so you have time to recoup and unwind.

Book these small breaks into your working days until you have a daily slot just for you. If you want, you can slowly increase the amount of time or add frequent small breaks within the day, but the important thing is that you protect this time and make it about you.

Book time off

I’ve spoken about this in my recent blog about achieving a work-life balance at Christmas, but make sure you take time off to recover, especially after busy periods.

You need to look after yourself just as much as those in your care.

Get support

I often hear from managers about how they support others but they don’t feel they have the support for themselves and I can't reiterate how important it is for everyone to have support and someone to talk to.

Firstly, speak to your line manager and ask for support. Be brave and be honest.

Having support and someone to talk to is vital as it allows for others to support you.

Remember that famous saying – a problem shared is a problem halved!

A recipe for success

I know if you’re like me, you’ll be reading this thinking these are great ideas but in reality, they’re much harder to implement – and you’re right.

But try your best to do at least one of the things on the list.

If you’d like to speak to me further about any aspect of this column or if you want support with finding your work-life balance, then please reach out to me.

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