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Work vs life: Forget about balance & learn to live with what you have

Businessman working on a laptop

The balance between work and life is a constant struggle for most Australians. Undoubtedly, those working in the mining industry are having a harder go than most. The latest Australian Work and Life Index report highlighted that those in mining have the greatest negative work-life interference. Although there are huge challenges and continuous debate about issues such as housing arrangements, work rosters, isolation and mental health, there is something powerful that you can do right now: Forget about balance! Instead, gain greater control and learn to pursue meaningful change in all parts of your life no matter what your job or age. Shift your mindset to asking, “How can I initiate change that’s good for myself, my family, my career and my community?”

1. Forget about balance

If you’re searching for “work/life balance” you’ll always be disappointed. The reason you may feel so frustrated much of the time, is that the balance you are hoping for, just doesn’t exist. Work-life balance implies that work and life outside of work each have equal measure. Most of life is filled with hard work. The key is in being super-disciplined in establishing sufficient recovery time and maximising your time off. Think more of work-life integration, in that work and personal life should be allies.

2. Take your health at least as seriously as you do your work!

Don’t wait until you reach middle age to begin to take care of yourself. Even in your younger years, you are not invincible. There is a lot riding on your shoulders: your significant other, your children,your job. Make a real effort to take care of your health including nutritious eating, effective workouts, and preventative healthcare.

3. Make sleep your number one priority

Sleep is undoubtedly the most powerful restorative tool you have at your disposal. In reality even small amounts of sleep deprivation undermine your body’s capacity for repair. Compelling research demonstrates the effects of good quality sleep on cellular healing and optimal cognitive function. Over 95% of people require at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night for best function.

4. Reclaim control

You experience the greatest degree of stress when you feel out of control. Although many aspects of your work (and home) life may be beyond your control, you may be unaware of how much is within your personal power. Whenever possible set your own boundaries and exercise choice in the important matters. You’ll be surprised how much choice you do have!

5. Value the flexibility

Notwithstanding the negative aspects of your work, one of the upsides is the flexibility. Maximize your time off work, and be proactive about scheduling your down time. Use this time to spend quality time with your loved ones and do things that you really enjoy. Although it is difficult to constantly slot in and out of the family’s schedule. “Tackle any issues as a united team and regularly reassess how the whole family is coping.” advises Ange Willcocks, psychologist and author of The Survival guide for Mining Families.

Although ‘Work-life balance’ is an obsolete concept, you can achieve a greater sense of harmony by reclaiming control over some of your lifestyle choices, maximizing your time off and ensuring you recharge your battery regularly.

About the author:

Dr. Linda Friedland is an authority on corporate health, as well as stress management and performance.