For many years now the subject of work-life balance has garnered much attention. The theory goes that we should all seek an excellent work life balance, making sure that we do not work too much, and that we also spend time with friends and family and taking part in hobbies that we enjoy. This has not necessarily been working out well for everyone, and for some, it can lead to burning out.
It turns out that work-life balance is not quite the solution we should be targeting. Yes, we need time away from work to recharge, but how we spend that time precisely is very important in making sure we can truly recharge and revitalize ready for our next time at work.
Achieving proper stress recovery balance requires us to think more carefully about how we spend that all-important time outside of work. Dealing with a stream of continual demands from extended family, children and friends can be just as exhausting as work, and it does not allow time to truly relax. Even doing certain hobbies may not necessarily allow true relaxation to occur. For your body to really recover from the stress you put it through at work, you need to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and this is only achieved through real relaxation – not through running around trying to catch up with everyone and keep everyone else happy in your time off.
So what can be done about this? The best approach is to make sure you consider your capacity versus demand. Demand includes both the internal demands you place on yourself and the external demand of others that you face. Capacity is your ability to handle the demands. You need to move away from a situation where you are just managing, and improve your capacity to one where you feel energized and optimistic by gaining sufficient stress recovery.