The common view is that when we reach 50 our pressures simply fade away. Show me someone over 50 with no pressure and worries and I will show you a small pig flying past your window. Stress doesn’t go away at any age, the cause simply changes and one thing that is still important to focus on is achieving a good work/life balance.
I always urge that, now our children are grown up and have moved out, we should stop worrying so much about them, or at least pretend to, and start thinking more about ourselves and how we can keep healthy and enjoy our work. Stress from work doesn’t always stay at work and when this happens we end up not sleeping, becoming ill and sometimes taking it out on our spouses.
Cortisol the stress hormone is highly useful in small doses, but when it’s stimulated for a continuous period of time things begin to go wrong. For instance, cortisol suppresses serotonin, which in turn affects our emotions, appetite, sleep, learning and memory. No wonder we become agitated, crabby and inefficient when we’re stressed.
Tips to maintain a good work/life balance;
- Set yourself strict work hours, and stick to them. Use your work time efficiently and explain your work schedule to your family so they know what to expect. Plan in and don’t rearrange family time.
- Leave work at work – don’t be tempted to check your emails or work at night once you’ve got home. If you often have to work from home, assign a room, desk or workspace as your ‘office’, and try to avoid working in other parts of the house such as bedrooms or living areas. Turn off your BlackBerry or disable work emails during the evenings and at weekends, so that you’re not constantly distracted by thoughts of work during your ‘downtime’.
- Prioritise your time. Make one list of both personal and work things which are urgent and make sure these get done first. That way if you don’t have time for everything, at least the most essential tasks will have been completed in both areas of your life.
- You’ve heard it before but I will say it again. Make sure you find the time to relax and unwind, so you have to plan downtime into your schedule! Even on a hectic day, just 10 or 15 minutes where you can read a book, go for a walk, watch a bit of TV or listen to some music will help recharge your batteries. Step away from the desk!
- Keep active and make time for exercise – this will boost your energy levels, improve concentration and ultimately help you get things done more efficiently. Do exercise you enjoy rather than one that is a chore so you are more likely to do it. Go for a walk with friends!
- Make sure you fully enjoy the time you spend away from work, by doing things that you will really look forward to. Don’t over plan but have a social event such as a family day out or cinema trip in your diary so you feel you have done something with the feel good factor.