Work-Life Balance

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With a limited number of hours in a day and responsibilities in both your work and personal life, things can quickly get overwhelming.

At least, it can if you have not yet struck a proper work-life balance.

Dr. Lisa Cortez is a licensed professional counselor from McAllen with 15 years of experience specializing in anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and stress. She says despite there only being 24 hours in a day, you can figure out how to balance your obligations in a way that does not leave you exhausted or your duties neglected.

“There is no such thing as ‘I do not have time,’” she said. “It is just about managing your time right.”

As for the benefits of having that healthy balance, Cortez explains it is good for both your physical and mental health.

“Emotionally, it is better for you because you’re not stressed out,” she said. “Plus, when you’re not irritable, it is easier mentally for you to be a better parent, spouse, employee, daughter or son, and friend.”

She adds that at this time especially, it is important to control your stress levels. Too much stress can actually weaken the immune system, making one more susceptible to a severe illness.

With the pandemic leading many to work from home, Cortez says knowing where to draw the line between work and personal time has gotten a little fuzzy.

“It is combining two things we normally have separate spaces for,” she said. “Also, if you have kids, the combination of having to be a mom and employee at the same time can become difficult.”

The best solution, in this case, is to designate a specific spot to work, making sure it is not at your dining table or on your bed or sofa where you may spend time with family or resting.

She also advises designating family members to step up and help with tasks at home and recommends “unplugging” to further escape the feeling of living at work.

“Try not to have your emails set up on your phone because it is important for you to just unplug,” she said. “An email can come in through your phone and it is easy to say, ‘I am just going to check it really quickly,’ but it activates your work mind and makes it hard to pay attention to your family and get to spend quality time with one another.”

One way to avoid that feeling of not having enough time, she adds, is to write everything down in a calendar — physical or digital is fine, as long as you keep up with it.

“A lot of times we take on too much and do not realize how much we are doing,” she said. “When you put everything on a calendar — both work and personal tasks — it becomes real.”

Another benefit to keeping track of your to-dos and activities is that it becomes easier to set boundaries and say “no” when you have a log of everything you are doing.

On top of holding up your responsibilities at work and to family, Cortez says it is just as important to prioritize yourself and ensure you get to do things you enjoy. She recommends scheduling in time for yourself every day — even if it is just 15 minutes.

“A lot of times we do not realize that we are not doing anything for ourselves,” she said. “So, be sure to add that to your calendar as well. Do not schedule anything because something is already scheduled. Even though it feels like you are not doing anything, that is your break.”

In the moments you may feel in over your head and in need of destressing, there are healthy practices that can help.

“Meditation, breathwork, and journaling — writing down how you are feeling — can really help your mind,” she said. “It is also very important to stay active with some kind of physical activity.”

While she recommends that everyone see a therapist even if there is nothing too serious going on, she says just talking to a friend can also be beneficial.

“Everyone is struggling right now so do not be so hard on yourself,” she said. “Trying your best is good enough.”

What steps have you taken to find a balance between work and life? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.