• Dana Glackin

Juggling Work and Life: How to Maintain Balance



In today’s day and age when we have technology at our fingertips and are constantly connected, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy work life balance. This balance is crucial to one’s well-being and ability to form meaningful relationships.

The deleterious effects of workaholism are numerous. However, there are several methods that can be used to counter the effects of workaholism and burnout to help individuals gain a healthy work life balance.


What is Workaholism?

It is difficult to draw the line between enthusiastic workers and “workaholics”. Generally speaking, enthusiastic workers are eager, engaged with their work, and experience increases in life satisfaction and job performance.¹ Workaholism occurs when an individual has an uncontrollable drive to work, and the amount of time spent working damages their relationships and ability to enjoy leisure activities.²


Workaholism causes stress, lack of politeness, family conflicts, and a decrease in productivity, life satisfaction, and job satisfaction.³

In Western countries, workaholism occurs in 8–10% of adults.⁴ There is growing concern that rates of workaholism are rising due to technology, such as phones and laptops, that allows people to work constantly and blurs the boundary between work and leisure.⁵


Symptoms of Workaholism

Workaholism, or work addiction, can develop when an individual experiences adrenaline highs from long spans of work, recognition of accomplishment by others, and promotions.⁶


In people suffering from workaholism, work will be the most important activity in their life. Workaholics will become stressed when they can’t work, and they experience conflicts between work and non-work relationships.⁷


Harmful Effects

There are many harmful effects of workaholism. Some of the effects directly affect the individual who is experiencing workaholism, and others affect their family and friends. 


Effects that directly affect the individual include anxiety, depression, loneliness, reduced work performance and withdrawal symptoms.⁸

Workaholism has many effects on an individual’s family, especially on their children. Children’s well-being is negatively affected by their parents unusual or irregular work schedules, which cause the parents to experience depression.⁹ Parents with large workloads had more parent-child disputes and a decrease in the quality of familial interactions.¹⁰ Finally, employees suffering from workaholism often find themselves concerned with work when they are not working and unable to engage with their family.¹¹


Burnout

Workaholism is also associated with burnout, a condition of tiredness and fatigue that is usually composed of three elements: exhaustion, skepticism, and lack of professional success.¹²


People who do not engage in leisure activity and give themselves the chance to recharge are at a high risk for burnout.¹³

In the United States, physicians have an astonishing burnout rate of 50–60%.¹⁴ This is due to the long hours, high demands, and stressful conditions that are a part of the job.





Work Life Balance

Work life balance is defined as an enjoyable pattern of activity that is healthy, relevant, and achievable for an individual.¹⁵ The work life balance is different for every individual, since each person has there own idea of the best balance and which activities are the most important to them.¹⁶ It is difficult to feel that work life balance has been fully achieved, similar to how it is difficult to know when you are truly happy. 


Workaholism is essentially the opposite of work life balance, since individuals who are “workaholics” experience a work-life imbalance and an uncontrollable obsession with work.¹⁷


When work life balance is maintained, individuals will experience an increase in productivity, morale, motivation, decrease in stress, and better work performance.¹⁸


How to Achieve Work Life Balance and Combat Workaholism

Luckily, there are helpful methods that combat workaholism and allow individuals to obtain a healthy work life balance. In order to be successful in working towards a work life balance, individuals need to find cognitive space to organize and react to the complex demands of daily life.¹⁹ Listed below are 5 of the best ways to facilitate a healthy work life balance:

  1. Set boundaries between your work and non-work life.²⁰ 

  2. Prioritize work and leisure goals for each day.²¹

  3. Include exercise in your daily routine.²²

  4. Take vacations from work.²³

  5. Meditate or practice mindfulness activities such as yoga and journalism.²⁴

It is crucial that we discuss in detail the benefits that meditation and mindfulness practices have on work life balance. Individuals who chose to meditate experienced notable increases in job satisfaction and decreases in workaholism and anguish than those that did not.²⁵

Finally, professionals such as therapists can help their patients to identify how work affects all aspects of their life and help them to label their values and priorities.²⁶




It is very difficult to maintain balance in your life between busy work days, socializing, exercise, and children’s schedules. Recognizing when you become overwhelmed or overworked is very important. When this occurs, you can try out some of the tips to maintaining a healthy work life balance and see what helps you the most. 


Endnotes

  1. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Dunn, T. J., Garcia-Campayo, J., Demarzo, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). Meditation awareness training for the treatment of workaholism: A controlled trial. Journal of behavioral addictions, 6(2), 212–220. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.6.2017.021

  2. Andreassen, C. S., Pallesen, S., & Torsheim, T. (2018). Workaholism as a Mediator between Work-Related Stressors and Health Outcomes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(1), 73. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010073

  3. Van Gordon et al. 2017

  4. Ibid

  5. Ibid

  6. Reiner, S. M., Balkin, R. S., Gotham, K. R., Hunter, Q., Juhnke, G. A., & Davis, R. J. (2019). Assessing life balance and work addiction in high‐pressure, high‐demand careers. Journal of Counseling & Development, 97(4), 409–416. https://doi-org.ezproxy.middlebury.edu/10.1002/jcad.12289

  7. Van Gordon et al. 2017

  8. Reiner et al. 2019

  9. Schnettler, B., Miranda-Zapata, E., Lobos, G., Saracostti, M., Denegri, M., Lapo, M., & Hueche, C. (2018). The Mediating Role of Family and Food-Related Life Satisfaction in the Relationships between Family Support, Parent Work-Life Balance and Adolescent Life Satisfaction in Dual-Earner Families. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(11), 2549. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15112549

  10. Ibid

  11. Lockwood, N. R. (2003). Work/life balance. Challenges and Solutions, SHRM Research, USA.

  12. Reiner et al. 2019

  13. Ibid

  14. Thimmapuram, J. R., Grim, R., Bell, T., Benenson, R., Lavallee, M., Modi, M., Noll, D., & Salter, R. (2019). Factors Influencing Work-Life Balance in Physicians and Advance Practice Clinicians and the Effect of Heartfulness Meditation Conference on Burnout. Global advances in health and medicine, 8, 2164956118821056. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956118821056

  15. Reiner et al. 2019

  16. Lockwood 2003

  17. Reiner et al. 2019

  18. Pawlicka, A., Pawlicki, M., Tomaszewska, R., Choraś, M., & Gerlach, R. (2020). Innovative machine learning approach and evaluation campaign for predicting the subjective feeling of work-life balance among employees. PloS one, 15(5), e0232771. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232771

  19. Lockwood 2003

  20. Mazerolle, S. M., Pitney, W. A., Goodman, A., Eason, C. M., Spak, S., Scriber, K. C., Voll, C. A., Detwiler, K., Rock, J., Cooper, L., & Simone, E. (2018). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Facilitating Work-Life Balance in Athletic Training Practice Settings. Journal of athletic training, 53(8), 796–811. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-51.11.02

  21. Ibid

  22. Thimmapuram et al. 2019

  23. Ibid

  24. Reiner et al. 2019

  25. Van Gordon et al. 2017

  26. Reiner et al. 2019