By Aisling Leonard
At the age of 12 my dream was to be the next Irish pop star. Fast forward to the age of 26, I’ve rapidly excelled in my career earning $75,000 Australian dollars, with 10 years’ experience in marketing and events, and a much sought after Melbourne city centre apartment. What did this cost me you must be asking yourself? Sever anxiety and an incredibly unhealthy work-life balance.
At the age of 27 I’m now an established yoga teacher living with my parents, earning a fraction, little less to nothing compared to what I was, but I have my health and happiness, and life has never tasted as sweet.
Aviva Workplace Health Index, released in 2013, stated Irish employees are under more pressure at work. 74% of employees agreed that the workplace had become increasingly stressful, while 72% felt a pressurised environment had become the norm.
Despite the recent enthusiasm for wellness initiatives such as mindfulness and meditation at the office, Irish employees are still struggling to find the right work-life balance.
Work-life balance means something different to every individual, here I offer some starting tips to help find the balance that’s right for you. It’s time to take responsibility for your own health and happiness, take control, be bold and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.
1. Step by step
What is making you unhappy? Figure out what you need to change and make a plan. Dr. Glenn Carter states “Having clear goals makes life so much easier because you know where you are going, how to get there and you have more control.” Start small, and build from there. Roman wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your change. It’s important to set yourself realistic goals, and not to be too hard on yourself. If you do slip up, re-evaluate, and start again. Organisation and scheduling will be your keys to success.
2. Your health is your wealth
Do you find yourself admiring other people, wishing you were a healthier version of yourself? Do you consider yourself to be healthy? Do you have a healthy diet? If you’re an unhealthy person you will not be able to enjoy the changes you’re implementing. You may not even have the energy to make these changes. Take the time to invest in your health and allow yourself to be conscious and happy in each moment.
Most Irish employers have created expectations of constant accessibility. The moment you leave work it’s time to shut down the phone, and leave your laptop in the office. Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life. Brooks says that phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. “Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,” says Brooks, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.
4. Exercise and meditate
“The benefits of mindfulness meditation in the workplace are both proven and profound: reduced stress, heightened awareness and increased emotional intelligence to name but a few.” Explains Katie Byrne. Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic. I found my health and happiness through yoga, discover your passion and incorporate it in your life.
5. Cut the crap
No one can make this change for you. It’s time you stopped making excuses for yourself and take control of your life. Surround yourself with positive people, be inspired and empowered by the company you keep. Start treating yourself as you treat others, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t say you will start tomorrow, start now. Begin by writing down one thing that you want in life. Stick it somewhere you can see it and start your day off by reminding yourself what your goal is.
We certainly will be!