Back in November 2019 I attended the Women in Tech Regatta and was inspired by several of the talks I attended. One of them was around “Integrating career and parenthood” and as I was sitting there, I felt that it touched upon some of the tensions we face in the workplace when battling with our mental health regardless of whether we are parents or not.
This got me thinking of the work-life balance again, and how we can create work environments that are favourable to managing the different roles we have in life.
In my last two blog posts I’ve been talking about our relationship with work and how it affects our mental health. Generally speaking, the workplace has a huge impact on us – including our mental health. Working in a negative environment can be really detrimental. If everyone around you is demotivated or unhappy in their jobs, or if everyone is extremely stressed… no matter what it is, it will affect you.
As I have been going on this journey with mental health, I have met many people along the way who all have their own stories to tell.
In fact, one of the things that inspired me to start sharing my story was hearing from others. Every time I heard from a friend or an acquaintance of some sort of hellish situation they were experiencing at work, I knew I was not alone.
I was recently listening to the Go2Thrive podcast (episode 1), and as they were talking about the work-life balance, one of the guests brought up the interesting topic of “rest and recovery”.
This sparked something in me. Having previously written that the “work-life balance” can seem pretty binary, and that balance will look different for everyone, it occurred to me that rest and recovery is quite the same.
Cue: this ridiculous stock image is certainly not the right answer.
One of the reasons we’re still struggling to address mental health issues, is because of the stigma that comes with them.
In the past (and probably still today), telling someone you were seeing a psychologist was often met with raised eyebrows as if to say “oh no! They must be crazy” or “they must have serious issues”. Same with the word depression, people have a concerned look and are worried your’e suicidal, don’t know how to respond, take pity on you or are worried you’re going to become a burden.
Originally this blog post was going to be tongue in cheek – recounting funny experiences of end of year breakdowns. But since no one answered my call for stories – I decided to turn this into something that I hope is more meaningful and helpful.
In my experience, the end of the year at work is madness. You’re rushing to finish off the last projects, leave no loose ends before you go on holiday, but you’re also desperate to finally have a break! Meanwhile you may be reflecting on everything you’ve done this year, thinking about the performance review and conversations you want to have, and wondering what you’ve achieved. Or you may be – as I have in the past – ridiculously overworked and racing against the clock.
The work life is balance is a concept that is constantly being sold to us. In particular in today’s context of increased pressure and burnout, we are all running after it as if it were some sort of treasure. Countless articles are out there telling us how to find it, in fact I myself wrote one a few years ago.
Today I’d like to talk about what happens when work takes over your life. By that I mean more than working long hours, I’m talking about when work starts to ruin your social life, your relationships and your health. When it changes you, to a point where you’re not who you used to be. What can we do about this, and how can we prevent it?
Finding the work life balance is a tough one. Where does work end and play start, particularly if work is your life for example? Starting a new job after nearly a year and a half of unemployment, suddenly made it hard for me to find a healthy balance between the two. I was catapulted from 100% “manage your own time ” into a very demanding job.
When I was unemployed, I wrote several posts on how this could be a positive experience if approached in the right way, and I still believe that. Having your own time to do what you want is a luxury that we are very quick to forget, and we complain too soon that we have too much time on our hands and are bored. But trust me, once you are back in the game you long for those days.