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Should I Bring Work Home? How To Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance

Aarthi Arun Aarthi Arun 6 Mins Read

Aarthi Arun Aarthi Arun


If there is one thing that every one of us finds challenging to achieve, it is work-life balance. Can't stop yourself from constantly checking emails or being on work calls? You're not alone

Should I Bring Work Home? How To Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance

According to a study done by Monster.com in 2019, more than 60% of Indian workers felt that they spend most of their time thinking about work.

It’s important to have a reliable job to support your family. But that doesn’t mean spending 24 hours at work is the way to go. After a long day, you need the time to unwind and be with your family. This will replenish your energy, bring you closer to your family, and refresh you for the next day.

On the other hand, if you choose to toil without any rest, here’s what happens:

Your stress levels go through the roof

When you’re carrying your work all day, your body is in a chronic state of stress. During high stress, your body is in the fight-or-flight mode, where your energy levels are high, your heart beats rapidly and your stress hormones are surging. This can help you in a dangerous situation, say when encountering a tiger where you need to fight or flee to survive. Short-term stress is good, and it’s a natural adaptation of the human body for survival. Likewise, a little bit of stress can push you to do better,; but being in a chronic state of stress can lead to many health problems - from anxiety to arthritis. Research shows that people working more than 11 hours a day are prone to depression.

You lose your sleep

Are you usually burning the midnight oil preparing for the next day’s meeting? Frequently replying to work emails at home? Don’t mind taking those 2 a.m. calls? These may be fine once in a while, but if you make it a habit, you’re asking for trouble. Sleep deprivation is not only going to cause physical health issues but also cognitive issues like reduced concentration, thinking, and memory. Moreover, chronic sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, increase your risk of lifestyle diseases and lead to poor balance. So, stop bringing your work home, and get good sleep. A full night’s sleep will give your body and mind a chance to recoup and keep you alert through the next day.

You may end up with health issues

The extra time that you’re putting at work is getting you a good name and making you the star employee. So, why can’t you do it? It may seem as if you’re doing better, but at what cost? Chronic stress and loss of sleep are going to have a huge impact on your health. They cause stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to spike. These surges can damage your arteries, thereby increasing your risk of heart problems like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Also, persistently high levels of stress hormones can increase your appetite, leading to overeating, obesity, blood sugar imbalance, and diabetes. Remember, after a long day, when you set aside your work, you’re saying yes to a disease-free life.

You move farther away from your family

Before you justify that you work so hard for the sake of your family, ask yourself if missing your child’s birthday party or your anniversary dinner is worth it. After all, your child can turn 5 only once, and you won’t have another 10th anniversary. The little things matter—they make your life meaningful. Your office work will still be there the next day for you to catch up. If you’re happy at home, your mood improves and you get better at work.

Your productivity drops

Contrary to what you may believe, you’re not doing your job well if you’re doing it for a greater number of hours. It’s the quality of your work that counts. If you’re overworking, you’re likely to be stressed and sleep-deprived. With poor work-life balance comes family problems and health issues. If you add all this to the equation, your work is not going to be productive. When you take a break from work, your prefrontal cortex—the thinking part of your brain responsible for concentration—also gets a break. When you overwork your brain, your critical-thinking skills and memory take a hit. By taking a break, you’re giving your thinking brain some downtime to refresh. This will let you focus better and keep your creative juices flowing when you return.

Striking a balance

Even with all the ill effects of bringing work home, sometimes, it’s impossible to escape the reality of critical issues, urgent deliveries, and looming deadlines. Here’s what you can do to avoid work taking over your life.

  • Set expectations at work and home: Bringing work home occasionally is acceptable, but if you’re doing it for most of the week, it’s time to set your boundaries straight. Talk to your manager and see how you can avoid getting overworked. Are you being called for technical glitches at your work every other night? Try to find the root cause and ask for help to fix it. Too much on your plate? Ask your manager for help in prioritizing or sharing the workload with a coworker. Also, if you plan to work at home, let your family know when you’ll be available to be with them and when you’ll need space.
  • Come up with nonnegotiable rituals: Before you step into your home, tell yourself that you’re getting into family mode. That means mindfully agreeing to not check emails or call coworkers for updates. Use your commute time to prepare yourself. When you bring work home, you’re also giving up your chance to slow down or indulge in any physical activity. Many studies have shown that physical activity can bring down stress levels and improve your mood. Moreover, if you leave work at your office door, you’ll have the time to spend with your family. So, aim to eat dinner together or play a game with your child every evening or go for a walk with your spouse after dinner. If you must work on a critical issue, don’t skip your rituals. Figure out a way to incorporate them in your schedule.
  • Limit technology: As soon as you leave your office, shut down your laptop. You also don’t need your office email on your personal phone. Without the constant distractions from your work-related stuff, you can concentrate on relaxing and spending time with your family. Let your coworkers know that their work-related calls during after-work hours or on weekends are not appreciated unless it’s an emergency.
  • Be assertive: Don’t fear to say no. If you’re expected to work from home just because others are doing so, don’t succumb to the pressure. Let your employer know that you need a work-life balance, and do what works best for you, your health, and your family.
  • Unwind: Use your weekends to replenish your energy. Spend quality time with your family and concentrate on some physical activities. This will bring you together and keep you fit at the same time. Tuck away your laptop on weekends and take a hike or visit friends and family. What better way to boost your happiness and reduce stress?

Your Action Plan

  • Think of the past week and calculate the number of hours you’ve worked at home after office hours.
  • Start a home ritual to spend quality time every evening with your child and spouse.
  • This coming weekend, avoid checking your work emails.

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