The importance of work/life balance to prevent burnout

Dolly Parton once said, 'Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life'… 

And we couldn't imagine a sentence that more perfectly sums up the importance of work-life balance.

While we will likely never learn the true meaning of life, a great place to start might be to take guidance from those who've lived. 

In Bronnie Ware's 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying', she discusses witnessing the following most common regrets:

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Unsurprisingly, 'I wish I had worked more' didn't make the list!

But has work/life balance become just a fantasy for the majority? 

According to research by Indeed (2021), over 52% of survey respondents were experiencing burnout in 2021.

The World Health Organisation defines burnout as 'a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.'

If you're currently experiencing burnout or think you might be at risk of developing burnout, it's time to pause and reflect on what is driving the workplace stress you are experiencing. 

  • Are you working excessive hours to try and get ahead financially?
  • Has your financial situation put you in a position where you have to work excessive hours to keep on top of things? 
  • Are you driven by achievement and recognition, which means you are constantly overworking to push further? 
  • Are the demands of your role beyond what is achievable within reasonable work hours?

Once you identify the root cause of what's driving your burnout, you can develop a strategy to get back to a healthy relationship with work. 

Driver - Financial

If financial demands or burdens have put you on a path to burnout, it's time to re-evaluate. This might include:

  • Reviewing goals to make these more achievable. Your goals need to be realistic and attainable to be successful.
  • Simplifying or downsizing your life. You don't need to keep up with the Joneses!
  • Checking in with your spending. A great way to do this is to consider your money as increments of time. For example, is eating out five nights per week really worth the additional hours you'd have to work? 


Driver: Achievement

If you're constantly feeling the need to 'push, push, push', consider why this is.  

A healthy amount of passion and drive is a great thing. However, an unhealthy obsession with achievement might signal deeper-seeded issues around feelings of self-worth.  

Working through and healing these feelings can help to shift your relationship with work.  

Driver: Workload 

If your workload has made you a slave to your job, it's time to act:

  1. Try reviewing your processes to streamline and create efficiencies to gain back some time. There are heaps of great time management tools to support productivity. 
  2. Where your workload is unreasonable, it's time to speak with your employer about the need for extra resources. 

It is essential to check-in with yourself and your relationship with work regularly to ensure you are maintaining and working towards that work/life balance. It's also important to seek further support when needed, such as speaking with your employer or a health professional, to assist with preventing and managing burnout.   

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