Opportunity for change No. 3 - the work-life balance

Over time, you find that those after-work habits have taken their toll on your waistline, and one morning you wake up and that suit you put on is pinching you in the side. You vow to start eating better tonight and rush off to work. After that most embarrassing rip while you bent down to pick up the pen your customer has dropped, you make your way hurriedly and crimson-faced to the next department store, buying the trousers in one size bigger. Once again thinking, "tonight I'll get the salad instead of the deep-fried meal", which you've forgotten by the time the youngster asks you what your order is, because those new pants fit so well and they're even a bit loose, so what could it hurt... add a dessert, too.
Over the last fortnight we've concentrated on issues that may arise in a work setting. Time to get to that other part of you - your life! Although admittedly, it's hard to draw a clear line between the two, because they're really quite connected, aren't they.

I bet you never really got it when your grandparents were talking about the good old days until you became an adult. Just imagine what those old times must have been like! No computers, no faxes, no mobile phones, little or no airtravel - hard to imagine, isn't it? True, they didn't have the mod cons we have today, but I guess they didn't have the need for them either. What I'm trying to say, is that so many inventions were born out of the necessity to save time at home so you can spend more time at work.

So, in the old days, the world was turning a lot slower, but nonetheless it was turning. People were not reachable 100 % of the time, and still the work got done. People did not receive instantaneous replies to their inquiries, they had to wait for the mail to arrive, but they didn't die in anticipation and still the work got done. People did not used to travel as much, but somehow everybody knew each other and still the work got done. Yes, they all worked long hours and probably weekends, and surely there were a number of premature, stress-related heart attacks, but I'll wager there were less than today.

Enter the digital revolution. In my imagination, back then people were conscientious and hard-working, but they knew how to relax, too. The office was left at the office, because there was no blackberry to take it home with. Nowadays, with the fast-paced and ever-changing environment all the business magazines talk about, I think real breaks are more difficult to take. How many of us have felt guilty for leaving the office at 6 pm although that's the official end of the working day? How many of us take the laptop home over the weekend just to catch up on the emails we didn't get a chance to read during the week? And, well, while we're at it, we may as well prepare that presentation for next Wednesday? It's commendable to be so devoted to one's profession, but it is dangerous to forget about one's need to rest in the process.

"Mens sana in corpore sano" - a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. A body that works 60+ hours a week and whose diet consists of fast food, coffee, and - dare I say it - cigarettes and other drugs isn't healthy. No wonder the mind goes downhill too, then. You have to be healthy in order to function; painkillers can only take care of the symptoms for so long. Ask yourself what could be the reason, what's the cause, why is your body reacting the way it does? Are you experiencing frequent headaches or migraines? Is your digestive system on the temperamental side? Do you feel irritable, emotional, or tired more than you think is normal? How about bouts of anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia or depression? Could it be that you'd be happier if you worried less about the job or what other people thought of you and spent more time with your family or friends? What are your hobbies? When did you last laugh out loud?

As you can tell, this is a wide field indeed, and there are plenty of opportunities for change simply thinking about how to handle stress, how to manage your emotions, and how to treat your body. For starters, you could take a couple of deep breaths, get that oxygen into every last one of your cells, make an effort to blink more often when you sit in front of a computer screen for long periods, and try to get more water, fruit and veg in. And drop me a line if there's any specific area you'd like to change and find out more about. Requests for post-topics are also welcome.

Til next time!