How to create a healthy work-life balance

For many of us, stress can unfortunately be an inevitable part of the workplace. This can have serious negative effects on our physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn can spill into our personal lives.

As part of Stress Awareness Month we decided to speak to some of our teams and find out first-hand how they manage stress at work, and what steps they take to ensure a healthy work-life balance. This week we caught up with Dawn, one of our service managers who oversees our services for crisis support, floating support and volunteering. She shares why she believes putting our own wellbeing first helps us create a more positive and productive work environment for ourselves and those around us.

I make it a priority to encourage and promote a healthy work-life balance for both myself and my teams. It is important to be able to ‘down tools’ and switch off at the end of the day – something that can be difficult, especially when you are working from home. For our operational teams consisting of recovery coaches and recovery navigators who offer crucial phone and in-person support to our clients, I have promoted the introduction of wellbeing meetings so team members can do something together. This could be outside of the office like going for a walk, or online like a short meditation that everyone can do at the same time via YouTube.

Working for the services that we do, it is impossible to eradicate stress, but I do have some strategies that work for me to help minimise stress where possible. It’s important to allow regular screen breaks and to factor this into your day. I try to limit myself to four meetings a day in my calendar and also block out time for any admin, answering emails and reading reports etc. These are small things we can all try to do, to shape how our working days look and that benefit us.

Did you know that a year’s worth of lunch breaks equates to almost 6 extra weeks of annual leave?

It’s good to talk

It’s important for me to be honest with myself and acknowledge when I’m facing difficulties, and seek support from my colleagues and manager. Discussing problems with others may not always offer a definitive solution, but gaining a different perspective can often provide valuable insights on how to manage my stress. Additionally, I make a conscious effort to set realistic deadlines and avoid overpromising. By under-promising and over-delivering, I ensure that I’m able to fulfil my commitments without overwhelming myself. These strategies have been effective in helping me manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

I have dealt with burnout in previous roles and would recommend speaking to someone about the problem – it doesn’t always have to be your own manager, maybe there is a colleague you trust or a friend who can listen to you. I feel grateful to work for an organisation that provides a supportive counselling program. Whether it’s a brief phone conversation or a series of six sessions, in the past this resource has been invaluable in helping me manage stress and avoid taking time off work due to stress. I would encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed to seek support and not suffer in silence. A problem shared is a problem halved. Sharing your problem with someone else can lighten the burden and provide new perspectives on how to cope. Taking care of our mental health is crucial, and utilising resources like counselling can make a real difference to our overall wellbeing.

Hobbies and activities

Something that also helps me manage stress is running – I run nearly 3k each morning before I come into work and ensure I do a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. This really helps to get me set for the day. At the weekends I will go for long walks with my husband and make time to be creative. I enjoy making cards, knitting and I’m currently learning how to crochet. These are really good mindful activities and give you that space to switch off from work and focus on something completely different. I also spend time with my grandchildren, teaching them new games or taking them to the park.

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