Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.
Relationships and planning will help bring balance to life.
From our March Cover Story
Pharmacists and others who work in the pharmacy industry are a unique hybrid of caregiver and scientist. In their daily work, the science aspect is often emphasized, but the client or patient is the one that benefits from the caregiving role.
Jan L. Bowen, a life coach and founder of Strategic Solutions Services, says the difficulty with that hybridization is that as a caregiver, the “well” from which one gives can often run dry.
“It’s crucial to replenish yourself-to fill the well, so to speak-in order to continue successfully doing your job and keep giving,” she says. “Work is only one aspect of life. We need various aspects of life to stay mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually-however you define that-healthy.”
Mary Loverde, a work-life balance expert and author of I Used to Have a Handle on Life, But It Broke, says if you think you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, this is not your imagination, and it doesn’t mean you have failed in some way.
“It’s important to create a new definition of life balance,” she says. “Instead of trying to get it all done, adopt a new life balance motto: ‘When you can’t keep up, connect.’ Connection is what creates a balanced life: Connecting with yourself, your family, friends, community and your God.”
A great way to do this, she says, is to establish some rituals that connect you with what is most important to you.
“For example, make the first Saturday of each month movie date night and be sure it put it on the calendar,” Loverde says. “Tell your kids that Wednesday nights are go-for-a-hike night. Figure out what feels good. Meaningful rituals give us the predictability and stability that make us feel safer and more connected in what feels like a very unpredictable and unstable world.”
Joe Robinson, a noted work-life balance speaker with Optimal Performance Strategies, says the life side of the work-life balance equation won’t happen by itself. People need to commit to making changes in their lives, including dipping their foot in the “life water,” and trying some new activities like dance or tai chi, he says.
“You have to look at the areas at work that are draining you in terms of demand, stress, and productivity that you can’t keep up with, and make adjustments in your work style,” he says. “You also need to carve out time for work recovery, so when you go home at night, you have strategies to relieve the stress and recharge the brain.”
Robinson says some great ways to remove stress from the day are unplugging from email once you go home, dedicating time to a hobby or exercise, and spending time with loved ones doing things you enjoy.
“If there’s a passion that you take part in regularly, you can add eight hours of joy in your week, and that goes a long way to relieving stress,” he says.
Jeff Davidson, who holds the registered trademark "The Work-Life Balance Expert" from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, says it’s vital to periodically abandon the rat race and make time for yourself. He is author of Dial it Down, Live it Up.
“The typical professional sacrifices rest and reflection in the hope of getting more done. Those with work-life balance take time for rest and reflection throughout the day, and accomplish more as a result,” he says. “Ways to accomplish that include drawing upon self-calming rituals all day long, lingering a moment after lunch, centering yourself on the way to breaks, and even between tasks and sleeping eight hours a night.”
Tips for Change
Change, especially for workaholics, isn’t easy, so taking small steps toward establishing clear priorities, supporting them, and assembling resources to accomplish objectives is the best way to go. Loverde suggests looking at your existing routine and modifying one element that would have the greatest impact for you.
Bowen recommends reflecting on all areas of life: fun/leisure, relationships (family/friends), home/physical environment, personal/spiritual development, finance/wealth, and career/work, and figuring out what feels complete and what areas are lacking.
“If you consider each of these areas a spoke in a circle, this can be a representation for a wheel of life. The wheel needs to be in balance in order to run smoothly,” she says. “Then focus on one area that will be the most impactful to change. And start by committing to a morning and evening routine for yourself. That routine will be designed according to your needs, so only you know the perfect routine that will suit.”
Some of Davidson’s tips for removing stress from one’s life include going a whole weekend without reading anything, scheduling a spa treatment, writing and calling friends you haven’t seen in a while, or visiting a botanical garden to enjoy the flowers, and letting your sense of smell, rather than your eyes and ears, dominate for a change.
“Another idea is to walk around your yard barefoot like you did when you were a kid. Feel the grass between your toes. Stick your feet in dirt or in a puddle,” he says. “Establish life priorities and pursue them daily. It will make a big difference.”