How Does Having a Structured Work-Life Balance Relate to Positive Mental Health

Written by Luke Adebiyi.

On writing this article, I researched what the exact definition of “Work-Life Balance” is, and there were several versions of it, however there was one common over-arching theme.

“Work-life balance refers to your belief that your personal and work lives are properly balanced. It means spending enough time achieving your goals and devoting time to the people and activities you love”

So, how can you improve your work-life balance and how can his contribute to a positive mind and good Mental Health? Here are 4 top tips to consider:

1. Take breaks during your working day

This doesn’t necessarily mean take four thirty-minute breaks throughout your normal day, however more to take time away from your desk to re-charge and gather your thoughts. Whether this is a couple of minutes to get a hot drink, or a simple walk across the office for a conversation with a colleague; the importance here is to have a couple of moments away from any mobile devices, e-mails or telephone to give your brain some time to relax. It’s proven your productivity will rise dramatically from a small 4-5 minute break, a couple of times a day. I have even seen more recently, a walk at lunch time or a walking one-to-one with your Line Manager, discussing this month’s activity whilst getting fresh air – a great idea indeed.

2. Use technology to work smarter

We are in an age now, where most of us can access our e-mails or have a work mobile that we can access most of our content from, or alternatively be able to access our desktops remotely. This can however have it’s pros and cons. In terms of cons, it’s useful to have any notifications off when you leave the office (unless absolutely mandatory) so you allow yourself to take a step back and not allude to getting into ‘work mode’ out of hours. However, on another note working from home can have a huge benefit to some individuals. Statistics say that working from home, in an environment where you are more familiar, increases your productivity and still allows you to complete most of your day-to-day activity (appreciating that most individuals do have the option to do this).

Technology has grown so quickly that we can now have video calls and almost feel like you’re in the office or have an in-house chat function, of which you’re able to have the same conversations almost that you would have in the office.

3. Learn to say no

There are a lot of people who are reading this (myself included!), who find it difficult to say no in situations both in and outside of work, where they think that saying no will affect people’s overall perception of their performance, in particular their managers. In fact – saying no shows how you are prioritising your workload and suggests that you have a proactive approach to what you are doing, the length of time it takes and so on. There are only so many hours in a day so prioritising tasks is key. Try to be transparent with stakeholders and let them know a more reasonable deadline to perform the task. Consistently increasing your workload will not only decrease productivity but can create a feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious or even stressed.

4. Work Flexibly

When it comes to flexible working – much like mental health – one size does not fit all. In fact, the key to a positive mental health outcome is workers being able to make their own decisions, rather than having a single "flexible" option presented to them. The standard “9-5” is no more and within most industries, they have decided to shake this up, where possible, to give colleagues the ability to control their day. "Flexible working helps people balance the demands of their work and their personal lives more effectively,” explains Professor Kinman. “There is evidence that people who work flexibly report better wellbeing, and are more satisfied with the work”.

A good example of this is where Jason has a doctor’s appointment at 10am, however lives 40 minutes from the Office and the doctors is five minutes from their house. By allowing him to work from home that morning, the employer gets thirty minutes extra productivity out of him, rather than a forty minute travel to the office, to then head back forty minutes, and then travel forty minutes back into the office following the appointment. The colleague also feels empowered and trusted, that their employer is allowing them to be more flexible, rather than trying to stress the colleague out and potentially just giving up on the appointment altogether.

In summary, a difficulty finding work-life balance only creates a negative mental state that would cause anyone to eventually burn-out, improving the balance allows you and your staff to feel empowered, more engaged and create a workplace where everyone feels included and that their needs are respected by their organisation.

I’ll finish on a quote: “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”

We thank Luke Adebiyi for contributing his insights to Locate Isle of Man.

Luke bravely spoke out about his Mental Health to 60,000 of his colleagues within a previous role and has since then proactively contributed to Smashing the Stigma attached to Mental Health. He’s also spoken at the Stonewall Workplace Conference on Mental Health in the Workplace and Mindful Mann on two occasions. He’s a two-time Ethnicity Role Model,  listed in the first Isle of Man 30-under-30 list and nominated for the Financial Times top 30 Future Ethnic Leaders. Luke is also an advisor to the InsideOut Mental Health Charter which features some of the UK’s largest Organisations and UK Parliament whose aim is to smash the stigma attached to Mental Health. Luke finally co-founded a Mental Health Charity on Island earlier this year.

Luke is also speaking at ‘This Can Happen’ later this year which is the largest UK Mental Health Conference which has previously been attended by Prince Harry. In addition – Luke has been awarded both in 2017 and 2019 at the Responsible Business Awards, Positive Role Model for Ethnicity and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year.

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