In the ever-increasingly stressful world, we live in, where work and life expectations need to be healthily balanced in an evolving culture scape, it is imperative to gain control of a healthy work and life balance, implementing key strategies and coping mechanisms to maintain a positive emotion set internally, which then reflects externally on the way we carry and conduct ourselves in our daily lives.
On a personal note, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 16. Having a mental illness is a hard burden to carry in modern day society, as one’s condition can be misunderstood. I have taken an uncommon approach in disclosing my disorder to people, as I would rather tell people that I suffer from emotional highs and lows of depression, than keep them wondering what could be wrong with me when experiencing the turbulent rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.
There are key factors to take charge of when applying coping mechanisms and building resiliency to maintain a healthy work/life balance. I will list a few crucial points below on strategies to keep one emotionally and physically in check:
- A strong support system – When you have a healthy family support system, you are surrounded by family members or friends that you have a positive relationship with who encourage you in your choices and trials and are there through the good and bad experiences of life – they don’t leave when it gets tough. The definition of a support system is that you have a network of people that can provide you with practical or emotional support. These support systems will help you improve your overall health and have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Having a support system means that you have people to rely on when you need them the most. It means that there are people you can lean on whenever you are in a tough situation.
- Exercise – An imperative cog in the wheel in keeping the body and mind healthy and functioning at an optimum level. One builds resilience, strength and destresses when taking part in exercise. Compare your body to an engine that needs constant maintenance, making sure our vital components are kept at their optimum, to keep a healthy body in check, with the by-product being a healthy mind. Healthy body, healthy mind – the two go hand in hand, and when their benefits are harnessed, service each other at a functional level.
- Adequate rest/sleep – Never underestimate the power of adequate rest and sleep. It is imperative that we get high quality sleep and rest before the point of physical and mental exhaustion. To function at our best in the workplace and our personal lives a diligent sleep routine is imperative to implement. Many biological processes happen during sleep. The brain stores new information and gets rid of toxic waste. Nerve cells communicate and reorganise, which supports healthy brain function. The body repairs cells, restores energy, and releases molecules like hormones and proteins.
- Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice daily. Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re remodelling the physical structure of your brain. “The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.”
Other tactics and coping mechanisms to build mental health resilience:
- Consider joining a sports team or workout group to boost your mood, improve your physical health and give you the opportunity to interact with others.
- Review your current social circles and family relationships, then single out the people who offer the most positive but truthful advice.
- Be open to the idea of asking for help when you need it and accepting that help as graciously as possible.
- Try new activities alone or in groups to introduce you to fresh faces who may provide a positive influence in your life.
We have all been entrusted as custodians of vastly complex bodies and minds, and it is our responsibility to honour ourselves by keeping our physical and mental awareness in check and functioning optimally. Break free from previous harmful habits, replaced with a positive mindset and belief system that encourages personal growth in the right direction, where our personal and work lives can be carried out with confidence that we are living our best lives possible, and striving towards an acceptable and sustainable work/life balance.