The saying goes work hard, play hard, but is this really the case? Are we as good at sustaining a healthy balance between work, study, and leisure as we are at maintaining a Snapchat streak? I know I’m not! With new studies revealing the negative health impacts of not finding a lifestyle balance, have we all become the new walking dead?
In the 1980 horror film ‘The Shining’ a phrase repeated several times was ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Without realising it, we may all be living in our own subconscious horror film, doomed to live a life not hanging in the balance.
In fact “people who work longer hours are more prone to physical and emotional illnesses, higher stress levels, and to be demoralized in terms of family and social connectedness” (sounds like a horror film to me). If leading an unbalanced life leads to unbalanced health, why are we letting it happen? Is our need for success outweighing our need for stress relief?
The answer might be yes. A theory I have become very fascinated with involves picturing a four-burner stove. Each stove holds a symbolic meaning with the first representing your family, the second your friends, the third your health and the final stove representing your work.
In order to be successful the theory explains that you need to cut off one of the burners and to be really successful, cut off two. From this theory I found myself asking two questions. Do we really need to cut off one burner to save ourselves from burning out? And, has success become the new disease and these are just side effects we had to adapt to?
So, what happens if we try to keep all four of our burners going? “Individuals who work more than 40 hours a week have higher chances of weight gain, and tobacco and alcohol use.” Are we so addicted to being the best that we have other addictions as a result? And are these side addictions worth it? I know I have an addiction that keeps me awake to finish assignments. Hello, my name is Emily Spence and I am addicted to coffee.
In addition to my lifelong coffee addiction (until death do us part), an important burner I have subconsciously cut off, is my health, specifically my sleep cycle. It’s said that New York is the city that never sleeps… but I would have to disagree. I think it’s Brisbane. Or at least it feels that way.
I know I have been guilty of staying up until 3 am and sacrificing my sleep to write assignments. I’m sure as you are reading this sentence you can think of a time when you have had to do the very same thing (or maybe the experience was so traumatic you blocked it out from your memory… I don’t blame you).
“It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life someone else will design it for you and you may just not like their idea of balance.” If you don’t want to become the new walking dead, my top 5 tips are below.
Tip 1. Set manageable goals to compete each day.
Reaching these reasonable day to day goals can increase self-appreciation and motivation and is an important factor for your mental health.
Tip 2. Unplug, unwind and unsubscribe.
Technology has given us all the ability to access work 24/7 and as a result it’s important to switch off, de-stress, and enjoy the moment.
Tip 3. Self-care… hell yeah!
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or a healthier snack to replace the coffee addiction (aka me), exercise and diet can help with stress relief, releasing a feel-good endorphin through the body.
Tip 4. Have a strong support network.
If you need to vent about work, cry about assignments, or need a friend to tell you which shoes are better for your business meeting, reaching out to your network can hit the metaphorical ‘reset button’ and create a new outlook.
Tip 5. Define what success means to you.
You can only be as successful as you want to be and by defining this you can define and work towards your work and personal goals.
Next time you are thinking of saying yes to the extra work shift, or grabbing a coffee for another sleepless night of assignments, remember you can turn busy into a balance… just follow the tips! If you ever have some free time (let’s hope you do) treat yourself to a movie, I recommend ‘The Shining’.