Wellbeing During COVID-19

Returning to the Workplace

Getting the Balance Right for You.  

If, like me, you talk to people about their work, it soon becomes very clear that they value the feeling of being involved and the sense of having done a good job.

And for many years now we have been grappling with the concept of work-life balance as we strive to achieve it.  Actually, I refer to it as work-life integration – the blend of all aspects of our life where we each find a rhythm that works for us.  This subject has come into focus these last few weeks where there has been a blend of working from home, going to the workplace, on and off furlough.  Many parents have been dividing time between home-schooling, on-line meetings/calls and other job tasks, working, ‘teaching’ then working again.   This has been demanding, exhausting, educational and very informative – the pandemic has turned our lives upside down and as we adapted, we have had had to regain our equilibrium, and do our best to get the balance right.

There is not a single, perfect work-life balance routine that applies to all of us.  We are all different.  Our experiences, our reaction to life events, and of course our personalities all vary so much.   Yet we often talk about work-life balance as if it is a single concept, all striving for the same things in the same way, a choice indeed between “work” and “life” without recognising that the two are totally entwined.

In this, our final blog, we focus on what that balance really means for you and in particular to encourage you to giving yourself the time and space to get that balance right for you. 

COVID-19 and Lockdown has changed us so much.  Over nine million people in the UK have been on furlough, unemployment has risen.  Millions of Primary and Secondary children have been away from school for over fourteen weeks, over four million students have stopped attending Universities or Colleges of Further Education.  Coffee Shops, Pubs, Hotels and other day-to-day necessities such as the hairdresser and barbers have all been closed.  The balance of our lives has been so rudely disturbed.   The world may still be spinning on its axis, but all seems to be out of kilter.

Now is the time for each of us to work towards getting the right balance back into our lives, at home, amongst our friends, in our communities, our workplaces, and in our country.   But for each of it that sense of balance will be different. 

What matters most is what we might term our “locus of control” – wrestling back an element of control on what we do, where we go, how we work and how we interact with each other.   Choices have been limited for the last five months, and of course there will continue to be limits, but exercising choice when we can, and deciding for ourselves will make us feel more in control and improve our sense of wellbeing.   We need to feel in control.   Equally we need to accept those things over which we can exercise no control.  It’s a balancing act between the two and we have to strike the balance ourselves. 

One area of control on which we should focus is our self-care, our physical and mental wellbeing.   Again, this will vary from person to person.  For some, the pleasures of completing 10,000 steps a day, drinking herbal tea, yoga, and taking ten hours sleep a night is their idea of bliss.   For others, it may be walking just a little further, reducing alcohol consumption, limiting take-away meals to just a couple times a week, and aiming to be in bed before midnight during the week, may be the balance of self-care they seek.     Whilst it will be very different for each person, what matters is getting to the balance you need in terms of caring for yourself. 

Please do not see self-care as self-indulgence. See it as part of building up your long-term stamina, your resilience and your wellbeing.    Diet plans, fitness magazines, lifestyle tips are all well and good but make your own decisions based upon your own needs.   Do not feel guilty that you are not doing as much as others, just do what works for you and set your own self-care goals.  We have been through enough in the last few months to deserve to make our own decisions and exercise our own control on what is right.

Another area of balance to address is simply whether you are having enough downtime and pleasure in your life as well as having enough work and challenge.  That may really sound strange although we can go back as far as Aristotle to find advice on the pursuit of happiness, so we are in good company.  Aristotle said that “happiness depends on ourselves” which fits into our theme of making our own decisions and exercising our own control.    He was convinced that a genuinely happy life required the fulfilment of a broad range of conditions, including physical as well as mental wellbeing and to achieve this we needed to strike a balance, later called by some the “middle path” between two excesses.   Again, that balance varies from person to person but its about achieving what matters for you.  It is, literally, a balancing act.

What is the best balance for you between time with the family and time with friends, or time alone?

What is the best balance for you between working hard and developing your career and taking nice holidays or chilled weekends away?

What is the best balance for you between financial caution and responsibility and learning to enjoy spending? 

These are matters for you to decide.   In the light of recent events and taking from the experience what you feel you have learned about yourself, your family, your work, these are big topics, take the time to work out what really is the right balance for you.  Then go out there, ready to face whatever comes your way – wiser, more positive, in control of your own “middle path.” 


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