You probably know that when you work-life balance gets out of kilter, it leads to stress. But did you also know that it can trigger eating disorders? Emotional eating, for example, is often a precursor to binge eating disorder, and it can easily become a negative coping strategy for those without work-life balance. In times of stress, or in the case of dissatisfaction at work, disordered eating can pop up as a way to manage difficult feelings.
Our culture is constantly telling us that we can be doing more and achieving more. Oh yeah—and we should have done it all yesterday! Of course, that societal pressure just fuels the high-achieving, goal-oriented, and perfectionistic qualities that feed the development or relapse of eating disorders. While it can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload, your health and home life are bound to take a hit. Here are just a few of the other consequences of poor work-life balance:
- Fatigue. When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly suffers, which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.
- Poor health. Stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition, including disordered eating.
- Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you’re working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and may damage relationships with your loved ones. It’s also difficult to nurture friendships if you’re always working.
In a nutshell, when your work life and personal life are out of balance, your stress level is likely to soar. Use these practical strategies to restore the harmony:
- Manage time management a priority. Cut or delegate activities you don’t enjoy or can’t handle, or share your concerns and possible solutions with your employer or others. Organize household tasks efficiently, such as running errands in batches or doing a load of laundry every day. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.
- Make lists. Put family events on a weekly calendar, and keep a daily to-do list at home and at work. When you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to be sucked into the priorities of others.
- Learn to say no. Whether it’s a co-worker requesting your help with an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to chaperone a field trip, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for activities that are meaningful to you.
- Leave work at work. With the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there may be no boundary between work and home unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress. Avoid using personal electronic devices, such as tablets, just before bedtime. The blue light emitted by these devices decreases your level of melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep.
- Make time for fun and relaxation. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as yoga, meditation, or reading.
Everyone needs help from time to time. If your life feels too chaotic to manage, it may be time to seek professional help. Our team of supportive, knowledgeable professionals is always available. Reach out to us anytime.