During your time in uniform, your focus was on completing your mission and returning home safely. Today, as you enter the civilian sector or seek to build your post-military career, you may be struggling to adjust to the balance of “work time” and “personal time.”
After all, in most cases, they are clearly delineated by schedule and job duties. No longer are you living where you work, socializing mostly with individuals you serve with and in a job where your spouse is part of your work community.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is not a nicety. In the private sector, "wellness" isn't just a buzzword used by recruiters to indicate an employee-focused company culture. Research shows that stress not only can be harmful to an employee’s health but also can affect their job satisfaction and productivity.
Your employer is likely encouraging a healthy work-life balance to ensure you’re satisfied with your career and bringing your best self to work every day. That said, it’s your responsibility to manage and fulfill your work-life balance, control the elements you can and seek help when needed.
Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance
1. Ensure you’re focused on manageable goals. Have you stacked your plate too full, thus stressing you out? Are you working in a most efficient manner, or could you be procrastinating, causing you to feel overwhelmed? Resist procrastinating on key projects, instead breaking up large tasks and projects into achievable units.
2. Give yourself periodic breaks during the day. Take time to get up from your desk, look away from the computer (there are even apps that can help remind you to do this!) and stretch.
3. Ask for help. Be honest with others on your team and your boss, and get assistance or additional support when you need it. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength and is viewed positively in the civilian sector.
4. Resist the temptation to seek perfection from yourself. Maintaining a healthy perspective means you’ll be tolerant of mistakes you make, take accountability and then fix them.
1. If you can, share household responsibilities with your roommate, spouse and even your children. You don’t need to do it all. Sharing the load at home means you can take breaks for yourself and not feel obligated to ensure every task is completed by you.
2. Allow yourself dedicated “downtime.” Whether it’s to read a book, play fetch with the dog, take a walk or go shopping, give yourself time to be nonproductive. In fact, this can be the time you’re most productive at recharging.
3. Take breaks from technology (especially social media or email). Consider turning off your phone, tablet and computer at a specific time each evening. Unplug from the news and let your mind rest.
4. Care for your basic health needs. Eat healthy food, check in with your doctors, get sleep and drink water. Studies have shown that 7-9 hours of quality sleep, regular and moderate exercise, sensible amounts of caffeine and time spent with friends increases overall happiness.
Paying attention to the balance of your commitment to work, family and yourself not only makes you happier at the office, but also at home. Consider focusing on the balance in your life and see whether your productivity and job satisfaction grow and whether you enjoy your life more.
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