When we’re trying to cultivate holistic well-being, we must consider what impact our work and workplaces are having on our lives. It’s no secret that a vast majority of our days are spent in work environments. Whether you work from home or commute to another location, you will likely see a pattern that shows space at the very beginning and very end of your day, reserved for life, and all the space between full of work duties. Looking at how much time you spend working over the course of your life, it may become clear that work plays a significant role in your overall health and well-being.
The various aspects of your unique workplace, from your employer and coworkers to the environment and culture, have a direct effect on your state of well-being. Committing to your well-being in the workplace is an opportunity to consider how your job, your duties, expectations, stress, and environment affect you.
Oftentimes, our schedules are consumed with tasks, meetings, and deadlines that we don’t realize we haven’t made space in the day for ourselves. Notice, when you get busy at work, is the first thing to fall off your schedule your well-being practices? Perhaps your meditation practice becomes more sporadic, you find yourself working through lunches, or you don’t make space for joyful movement practices.
Holistic well-being requires us to prioritize our well-being no matter where we are or how busy we may be. The practices you engage with can and should be infused into your day, rather than separated and reserved for the small spaces before and after your work is complete.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
The society we live in idolizes busyness and uses it as a measure of success and worth. With an emphasis on staying busy at every moment of the day you might feel you need to separate your mindfulness practices simply because you don’t have the time. All too often, we are forced to omit our practices all together in the name of success. Cultivating well-being at work is an opportunity to redefine what success looks like. We are all more than what we do, more than any job title or description could even encompass. When you think about success it has more to do with your quality of life and enjoyment of each day versus how much you are able to accomplish in a day.
While most of our time is spent on work, we must remember that there is more to us. We are multifaceted beings and need to nurture all aspects of ourselves every day. Our mindfulness practices and well-being journeys cannot be separated from our work lives, they must be integrated into each of our days. Giving yourself permission to be well and prioritizing a life that nourishes you will make a significant impact on your health.
Recognizing and communicating well-being needs is an important step in your ability to thrive. Creating clear boundaries around your work and life that serve you best is an act of care.
Try these tips to help you create boundaries in and around your work:
- Turn off all notifications related to work when you are “off the clock” (I.e., email, task management, work related messaging systems, etc.)
- Schedule in time during work hours for mindful breaks – prioritize these as much as you do any other meetings in the day
- Commit to taking whole days off each week
- Practice communicating your needs at work and asking for support when needed
When you commit to making space for your well-being at work, it encourages your coworkers, employers, and employees to prioritize their well-being as well. Leading by example allows others to do the same and workplace culture can shift from unserving, hustle culture to compassionate and well-being centered.
You might often hear the phrase work-life balance referring to the equilibrium between your personal life and your work. This phrase centers work as the first and most important aspect and adds life as a secondary thought. If you practice reversing the order to LIFE-work balance, you can see that life comes first, giving your life and your wellbeing importance over your work so that you can truly nourish and support what matters to you most.
The first step to find life-work balance is to put work in its place by making adjustments so that your work can have a more positive influence in your life. You might start with some of the boundary setting practices mentioned above – honoring your days off, silencing notifications, scheduling leisure time in your calendar - and sticking to it. Creating these boundaries around your work and within your workdays reinforces the prioritization of your life and wellbeing above all else.
The second step to finding life-work balance is to tune into the deep knowing and understanding that your life matters. You are here on Earth to enjoy and experience every aspect of this life, personal and professional. When you shift your mindset from prioritizing work to prioritizing your life, you can settle into the enjoyment of each moment and find more fulfillment every day.
Consider where work falls on the spectrum of influence for you right now. Take a moment to pause and contemplate the following questions or locate a journal and write down your answers:
- Who am I, outside of my career?
- What is important to me?
- Are there any areas of my life that I am neglecting?
- Where can I prioritize my well-being and make adjustments in my life?
- Am I nurturing myself and those I care about?
Of course, work is an important aspect in our lives. A global study done on well-being found that career well-being is one of the biggest influences on overall health and quality of life. This reframe in language is not to say that work is not an important aspect of our lives, just that it is not the only important aspect. When you prioritize your own life above all else, including the work you do, there is space to remember that you are so much more than what you do.
Your journey to well-being encompasses all aspects of your life. How you feel about work can deeply impact how you experience life in positive or negative ways. Take time every day to recognize how your job affects your well-being to ensure it is sustainable, matches your values, and aligns with your purpose in life.