Is work-life balance real?
Ah, work-life balance – an elusive concept.
Is it really possible to achieve a healthy balance in today’s “do or die” workplace environment? And what does that look like as we approach a post-pandemic lifestyle?
Or maybe the question should be: why do we see “work” and “life” as opposites – as two things that compete with each other? If we’re truly going to live happy, healthy, balanced lives, how can we change our mindset?
Work vs. Home
As RDHs and DAs, it’s difficult to not become completely consumed by work. You are constantly screening and treating patients, and any work with people can cause compassion fatigue – you are healthcare workers, after all. And while the pandemic has brought attention to the important work that healthcare workers provide, it has also highlighted how overworked they (you!) can be.
So, when you are at work, there are some steps you can take to make sure your day has as little stress as possible – so that when you do get home, you can enjoy some R&R.
- Set goals; make your day manageable. This can be difficult, because your day depends on how many patients you have scheduled. But where you can, set doable goals – you’ll feel accomplished, and your daily to-dos may seem less overwhelming.
- Set boundaries; know when to say no. Of course, there will always be tasks you have to complete. But if your coworkers are asking you to take on additional work, and you don’t have the physical or mental bandwidth to do so, let them know! Your health is a priority, too.
- Take note; figure out where your emotions are at. Are you overwhelmed, stressed? Head outside for a few minutes. Are you dreading going into work in the morning? Jot down a list of the things you truly love about the job itself, what makes it meaningful for you. Get excited again!
But what about when you get home – when it’s time to take a break from days filled with dental screenings, cleanings, and more?
Do your best to take some time for yourself – watch a movie, go for a drink, try an outdoor activity. Relax and reset. But don’t think of rest as laziness – it’s important to preserve your physical and mental health, if you are going to be your most productive and efficient self when you do head back to work!
Somewhere in the middle
Really, work-life balance is more like work-life integration. Work isn’t the antithesis of life – it’s a part of life. Maybe it’s helpful to think of your overall lifestyle as a pie chart (like those colorful ones from grade school). Work is a blue wedge, family is a pink wedge, friends are a green wedge – they’re all a piece of the pie. So really, it’s not about placing work and life on a two-sided scale; it’s about figuring out how big you want each slice of life to be. And that means work-life balance looks different for different people – maybe you thrive on working long hours, or maybe you want to completely shut your brain off the minute you step out of the door. Whatever makes you the happiest and healthiest version of yourself is the balance you want to strike!
That’s one of the many benefits of being a temp – you get to set your own schedule. And while sometimes that can be frustrating – sometimes you have to work longer hours, and sometimes it can be difficult to navigate – it also allows you to create the perfect work-life balance for your lifestyle.
So, is work-life balance real? Yes – but the beauty of it is, you get to decide what that looks like.
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