“Work-life balance” is a term that gets thrown around a lot. Some people have it, some people think they have it, while most people longingly aspire to it. The phrase itself assumes that “work” is not a part of “life”, and must be “balanced” against it. It has become almost enigmatic, we can’t describe it or crack its code, leaving many somewhat intimidated by it. How could we ever balance one (work), so demanding and integral to our financial situation, with the other (life), that encompasses so much?!
Defining the work aspect is pretty straight forward – you know when you’re showing up each day, hitting goals and adding value to the business. But life, how do we judge if we are showing up and adding value to our lives?
It is increasingly recognised that quality of life is strongly intertwined with quality of health. Not simply our physical health i.e. what we eat or how often we move, but also our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. This involves relationships, leisure, pleasure, self-reflection, self-love, beliefs and much, much more.
With one third of our lives spent in the office, how are we expected to find the time to fit in all this other stuff?
The truth is, many of us don’t. We prioritise careers and allow our health to take second chair. That looming deadline… or time for the gym? Early morning meeting… or a much-needed 15 minute meditation? Coffee to get me through… or herbal tea? Late night working… or time with loved ones? So many of us sacrifice the latter for the former far too often. By the end of the day, we are so exhausted and resentful of the sacrifices we have to make, we often make further poor choices – the thought of preparing a healthy meal ridiculous compared to the easier options like takeaway and comfort food, the idea of a yoga class (if we even left the office in time) ludicrous when there’s chores to be done, relationships to nurture or simply mindless reality TV on offer.
With workplace stress levels continually rising, it is becoming abundantly clear that the work-life scales are tipping unfavourably for the majority of us. Physically, stress is impacting 75% of Australians, while mentally it is taking its toll on 68%. Only half of Australians feel their employers truly care about their wellbeing.
To combat this, a few forward-thinking organisations have recognised the integral role health initiatives have with cultivating corporate culture and business success. Implementing programs such as lunch-time yoga offer desk-bound employees an opportunity to exercise, ease their minds and reconnect, within work hours.
This is not only fantastic for their overall health but also serves as a business tool – the midday boost increases focus and productivity, encourages team-building and makes employees feel that they are getting more from their job than simply a pay cheque.
When I teach corporate yoga classes, the first comment I get after Savasana is “I could take a nap!” But 10 minutes later, they all report feeling much more alert and focused, and this stays with them throughout their afternoon. Students are happier because they are getting their workout in, they feel valued by their employer, their work improves and they enjoy the social aspect. The benefits are endless!
Work-life balance isn’t necessarily asking, are we hour-for-hour spending equal time on both, but rather, are we giving as much energy to our wellbeing and relationships, as we are to our occupation? Are we supporting ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally, so that we can fulfill our jobs and career ambitions to the best of our ability?
Organisations need to help with the balancing act by prioritising employee wellbeing. That one hour within the work day just once a week truly makes all the difference to tipping the scales back in our favour. By implementing a wellness initiative employers assist their team by decreasing stress, increasing productivity and generating an inclusive corporate culture that fosters loyalty to the business.
If you’ve identified that your company needs to introduce a healthy dose of yoga, why not suggest in-house lunchtime classes?
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