Ellen Mrinalini Shinde is Clinical Head of 1to1help.net Pvt. Ltd.,
a counseling faculty that caters to a 130 companies. Ellen is based in Bangalore
As you begin to read this page. Stop for a couple of minutes. Close your eyes and think of all the roles you already play. Most of us are employees, leaders in a small group, husbands/wives, children, siblings, parents, nieces /nephews, uncles/aunts, church member, community leader, citizen and perhaps more.
The roles we play are numerous, demanding from us investments of time, energy, and other resources.Now think for a minute about how you are investing in each of these roles, and the satisfaction you derive from each.
Are you satisfied with the roles and the investments you are making? Is there anything you would like to change?
If you find yourself wanting to change the way you are investing, you are making adjustments to your work life balance. Perhaps you find that you are putting in too much into your role at work, and not enough as a partner, spouse or parent, and need to make changes in investing in friendships or relationships with family.
I hope that as you continue to read the article below you will grow more hopeful of making the changes you are convinced that you need to make so that you are able to achieve professional success and growth, without sacrificing those other investments that make life enjoyable and fulfilling.
Work Life Balance a concept that is really more descriptive of modern day living and working. It seems more to be a concern for certain kinds of occupations, defined by characteristics of the work place Long hours culture, Irregular hours Business travel Long commutes Blurred boundaries Labour market flexibility and the ‘blessing’ of a smart phone.
Why are we investing so much at work.
A strong Achievement Drive-
We want to achieve as much as possible, and feel like we must work hard. The harder we work the more we will be rewarded.
Work Contexts Require it.
We now work in a global economy and there is a need to stay connected meeting demands of work on both sides of the ocean. Working to fulfil requirements of two time zones, leaves people with little time or energy for other investments.
Uncertainty in the Job Market where people are easily replaced if not productive, often drives people to put in long hours to ensure being seen as hardworking people contributing substantially to productivity.
Misplaced Identity/Sense of Self Worth
Individuals are increasingly depending on their role/job/designation or even the trappings that their earnings will allow them to possess to give them a sense of ‘who’ they are.
Driven internally fuelled by powerful parental injunctions to work hard, along with expectations from significant others, including culture, and perhaps even your faith.
However the focus of this article really is to figure out what happens when there is disproportionate investment in work versus the rest of life.
Work Life Balance is a dynamic phenomenon. It varies from individual to individual and in the same individual is dependent on the stage of life one is in. So while there is a time in your life, when your investments at work must outweigh other investments, the pattern will and needs to change.
While increased investments in work have led to a host of benefits, including higher wages, more disposable incomes, increased opportunities for advancement and more women in the work place allowing them to therefor enjoy a more equal partnership in marriage, there is also the negative impact.
We are seeing higher levels of Stress, and Dissatisfaction. It seems to be taking a toll on the Physical and Mental health of Individuals. People are reporting of increased tiredness/Fatigue- A Feeling of being stressed all the time. It almost seems like we are constantly being chased, with our “TO DO” lists never being completed. People are increasingly describing themselves as being exhausted or busy.. Content, peaceful, refreshed, fulfilled are words used sparingly.
Individuals in counseling come in feeling sleep deprived the sleep disturbances range from shorter hours of sleep, disturbed sleep, and difficulty falling and staying asleep. Thanks to modern technology, getting away from work is now almost impossible, and people are getting to the point of having to always check their phones for messages/calls/ and interactions on social media. This has left people feeling restless agitated adding to the feeling of never being ‘still’
Lack of sleep, tiredness, agitation and stress is also contributing to eating disturbances, from inability to eat, to overeating, and digestive complaints of acidity and ulcers.
Sleep deprivation and the pressure of deadlines, and having to do better, quicker, more along with the consequent anxiety is causing a reduction in people’s ability to fight infections and making them vulnerable to a host of illnesses.
Doctors report that people in their 30’s are now reporting various muscular skeletal disorders that earlier plagued older people. Back aches, Repetitive stress injury, There are more people consulting medical practitioners for symptoms of ‘dry eyes’ headaches and migraines, Respiratory and other breathing difficulties including frequent coughs and colds with asthmatic attacks have increased.
People suffer from elevated levels – Blood Pressure, and cholesterol. Diabetes and other heart related illness seem to be increasingly reported along with other life style diseases.
Often these physical symptoms add to the distress of other psychological disturbances. In addition to all of these, there are a host of social and psychological difficulties. People reporting confusion, difficulty with decision making and memory loss. Mental Illness and emotional disorders that may have been dormant, with the increased stress and sleep deprivation are now coming to the surface. People in counseling are reporting intense anxiety, depression, over 5 persons each day reporting risk for suicidal behaviour.
Relationships are impacted. Long hours of work, role demands, difficult commutes all leave very little time and energy for investments in significant relationships. People are reporting lack of communication with significant others, with little toleration for frustration, increase in conflicts, emotional fatigue and infidelity resulting in break ups, separation and divorce.Emotional Infidelity is on the increase, stemming from ease /access to relationships other than one’s spouse coupled with increased conflict at home, and decreased restraints because of physical and emotional fatigue,
There is a huge impact on Children- Less time spent with parents. More time on the internet/electronic gadgets, resulting in greater aggression,and lesser social skills.We are also seeing lowered frustration tolerance in children because of parents willing to spend larger amounts of disposable incomes in meeting needs & desires of children more immediately. They seem to be growing up with not being able to ‘wait’ and finding it easier to discard and move on. What starts with the discarding of things, will move to the discarding of relationships too.
With both parents working there are difficutlies in setting consistent limit setting & disciplinary practices as a result of different caregivers ( parents/grandparents/ professional services) Children also seem to be getting more aggressive equipped with lesser social skills from the lack of ‘natural play’ opportunities and constant exposure to a virtual world.
Elder care is a growing concern, relegated to professional services, with more couples being out and unavailable for caregiving.The quality of life for our aging parents impacted by our choices of how we create our work life balance.
What really needs to change here-
A recognition that we are in flux.There is a need for serious re thinking. We need to ask ourselves the question of whether we are living life intentionally, or have we just got caught in the rat race.
Have we viewed the impact on our own selves and those we love? And then do we need to make changes in the light of our faith and beliefs?
If from reading the article you find yourself caught on the roller coaster of life and are wishing to get off and make some changes do contact