Work-Life Balance

What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is usually defined as the relationship and prioritisation between your career and your lifestyle, generally divided into the four life quadrants, work, family, friends, and self. A healthy work-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean that the hours spent in each quadrant are distributed evenly. A good work-life balance is different for everyone as we all have different priories and obligations and these will vary over time, often daily. A quality work-life balance will increase your sense of wellbeing, lower your stress levels, and increase your productivity inside and outside work. A poor work-life balance can reduce performance, creativity, commitment; increase poor punctuality, absenteeism, mental health challenges, physical exhaustion; and can make you more susceptible to burnout.

Common Symptoms of a Poor Work-Life Balance

There are a few common behavioural, physical, and psychological signs and symptoms of a poor work-life balance. These include:

  • Having no clear separation between work and home, answering work calls, texts, and emails outside or work hours.
  • Poor sleep patterns and work-related dreams leading to fatigue.
  • Increased caffeine, smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Decreased quality time spent with family, friends, and loved ones.
  • Increased irritability and arguments with family members, friends, and loved ones.
  • Poor health, chronic illness, or worsening symptoms of pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Decreased time spent on self-care including eating healthily, exercising and engaging in hobbies.
  • Feeling emotionally exhausted, lonely, incompetent, or just no longer caring
  • Struggling to focus, reduced efficacy or decreased sense of achievement.
  • Decline in mental health, noticing feelings of hopelessness, dread, restlessness, mood swings, panic attacks, or thoughts of suicide.

Self-Management Tips and Strategies

Getting the correct work-life balance for yourself takes practice and will likely be constantly changing as to which domains you want to priorities at certain times. Here are a few tips that can help you achieve a healthier work-life balance:

  • Have clear endpoints to your work day – Set a time to be done with work and disconnect with work devices and emails after that point.
  • Have downtime Make sure to add time in your agenda to relax and unwind after work every day and during the week to ‘recharge your batteries’ by engaging in recreational activities, hobbies, exercise, travel, or volunteering that you enjoy.
  • Know your limitations and set boundaries – Look at the amount of time you devote to work, family, friends, and other activities and consider your values and priorities when balancing your schedule. Learn how to set boundaries at your limits and say ‘no’ occasionally to avoid being feeling swamped and overwhelmed in any one area of your life.
  • Prioritise your health – Make sure to allow time in your schedule for regular exercise (even light exercise is good), a regular sleep schedule, and eating healthy meals. Allow yourself to engage in mindful thinking, being fully present and engaged in what you are doing in the moment, whether it be at work or outside of the workplace.
  • Develop a strong social support network – Find a supportive peer group potentially through friends, colleagues, consultation groups or family.
  • Embrace flexibility – Setting aside time for different responsibilities and areas in your life requires adaptability in how you work and spend your time. The exact time you need to spend on different activities in each area of your life might differ week to week and requires some level of flexibility.
  • Seek professional support – Don’t hesitate to talk to your GP or a psychologist about your concerns. Your employers may also have employee assistance programs they can offer you to help manage work stress.

When can a psychologist help?

When you are feeling like you’re struggling to find your balance on your own then seeking additional support can be useful, especially if you are experiencing stress, burnout or if your mental health is being impacted. A psychologist can help you define and set healthy boundaries and problem-solve any potential barriers. They can also help with strategies for reducing related-symptoms that may have developed. Our team are happy to support you on your journey if you need any guidance to living a happier, more balanced life. You can book online using our Book an Appointment button, give us a call on (02) 4625 3339, or email us at

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