For a good number of women I know, their job consists of dealing with heavy and stressful subject matter. Some of their jobs include working as nurses, aides for children with extreme disabilities, psychologists, and counselors for patients with substance abuse issues. For these women, the stress that accompanies these jobs continues to weigh on them long after their office doors shut, and they head home for the night. It’s the kind of emotionally taxing work that can affect someone deeply, and make it difficult for them to shut out residual feelings after a long day of work. When I speak to these women, I can’t help but reflect on what my own work consists of (i.e, working from home), and feel guilty. I consider how strong those women are for being able to cope with the type of work they do day in and day out. But, then I remember that my job comes with its own set of stresses. While I don’t ever have to handle really tough topics, I can still relate to their need to maintain a proper work-life balance.
We all have stress at work, and the most important thing we can do is handle it the way our bodies and minds tell us to. Whether it be taking time to eat and exercise properly, or write in a journal for a half hour each night, it’s essential that we find these small ways to preserve our personal time outside of work. Of course, if you own your own business, this can be a challenge because it’s tough to leave work at the door (and in some cases, harmful). But, it’s essential that we all focus on carving out time for ourselves to reboot our minds and bodies.
I asked around to a few women I know who have particularly stressful jobs, to discuss some of the ways in which they preserve their own work-life balance. I feel they are able to do so without sacrificing the quality of their work or their mental well-being, and for that, I’m in awe of their strength. Here’s what they said:
“Don’t let negative, time-wasting friends and activities distract you. Part of creating a better life-work balance for myself means using my precious free time in ways that lift me up. Being around negative people is a drag, and taking part in social activities I don’t care about is more draining than anything else. Cut out the excess, and live on your own terms.” -Leah
“I simply had to cut back on my hours at work. I took a small decrease in pay, but for me I thought, what’s another dollar if I’m too miserable to enjoy spending any of it?” -Amanda
“For me, exercise is essential. It gives me the alone time with my thoughts that I need to recharge after a long day at work, and it keeps me feeling fit and happy. I carve out time for a run each day no matter what, because it keeps me feeling centered. It’s what I need when I work crazy hours in a schedule that changes week to week.” -Rachael
“What keeps my work-life balance in check is treating my apartment like a special sacred space (which might sound nuts, but it works for me). As soon as I get home from work, I take off my work clothes and immediately change into comfy pajamas. I light candles, put on music, and take a half hour to make myself a nice meal. It’s what makes me happy and keeps me positive.” -Nicole
“I work as a nurse, and I see some pretty crazy shit. This includes caring for belligerent patients, moving the deceased down to the morgue, consoling the families of cancer patients, etc. In order to preserve my work-life balance, I have to keep emotions out of what I do. It’s a way to protect myself and my life outside of the hospital walls. Lucky, I work three days on and three days off, so those three days are a much-needed buffer in between very unglamorous responsibilities.” -Jenna
“My partner and are both freelance designers, and we collaborate on projects we love outside of our lucrative freelance gigs. It allows us to come together and work in our downtime on stuff we enjoy. When I make the most out of my free time by staying productive and creative, I’m the happiest in work and play.” -Katie
“I stopped saying “sorry” to people at work all the time. I learned not to say “sorry” so often, because it implies blame even when there isn’t any. Avoiding this term makes me feel less down on myself and more efficient and motivated at work. Overall, it’s made life feel less like one giant fuck up that I’m struggling through, and instead, forced me to own my decisions in and out of the office.” -Jackie
“Creating a better work-life balance for myself meant NOT checking emails after 7pm. Sure, I still check them as SOON as I get up in the AM (which is around 6:45), but I’ve realized that co-workers can wait. Once I leave the office, I’m done with email. If I didn’t create that rule for myself I’d be where I was two years ago: positively glued to my phone.” -Jen
“Not to sound terrible, but a glass of good red wine helps me unwind after a week of work. It sets me up to have a fun weekend with my girlfriends. Maintaining strong friendships is the biggest conscious decision I’ve made to preserve my work-life balance.” -Lindsay
“Going on vacation. Getting out-of-town is a chance to reward myself for how hard I work at the office. Vacation is me time that can be anything from a day-long staycation at my apartment, a weekend away, or a week spent on an island. I used to feel stressed 24/7 from work and too anxious to go away, but over the years I’ve learned to embrace it as a way to recharge. I find that when I invest in time traveling where I can create memories that last longer than anything else, I go back to work feeling more inspired than ever.” -Emma
Image via Unsplash