The instance of burnout among professionals and students has increased in recent years. The problem seemed to become more potent with the onset of the pandemic. In a world where we already had trouble separating our personal and professional lives, we couldn’t have possibly stood the test of a pandemic too.
We have always been advised against mixing our personal and professional lives, and we have almost always failed to do so. While it may seem easy enough to do, it is actually easier said than done. With the prevalence of the ‘Hustle’ culture and the widening gap between minimum and livable wages, the lines between your job and life are blurred beyond recognition.
On hearing this, one may think that they have set proper boundaries. You may even feel the same as you read this article, but have you really set these boundaries? Do you not check your emails and answer work-related calls and texts after work and on-off time? Do you not bring back baggage from work and find yourself seething about it hours later? Do you not end up working at home despite being off the clock? If so, then you certainly do not separate work from your personal life.
Being able to separate the two is indeed a privilege reserved for people who either can not work outside of their workspace or who can afford to refuse to say no without losing their jobs. However, you can do certain basic things to avoid blurring the lines more than they have been already.
The first thing to remember is that you work to live a good life, not the other way around. People often start believing that their work is the only important thing in their lives. I agree that your job is essential and that it is why you’re able to live the life you’ve always wanted. However, you mustn’t let it overpower your entire life. You should not feel guilty about taking time off or planning vacations. The capitalistic nature of our society makes people treat their jobs as the only important thing in life, so they often place work above all else. A very toxic trait that has been bred in the minds of working professionals today is the glorification of the workaholic life. People carry the workaholic tag like a badge of honor on their chest rather than a crippling weight on their backs. Amid messages promoting working yourself to the bone and putting hard, laborious work above efficiency, people lose sight of reality and start equating their burnout to success. Hard work is undoubtedly the key to success, but that does not in any way take away from the importance of being efficient; just because your way of working is difficult doesn’t mean that it is the best.
You must never stop exploring and learning as long as you’re able to. Many people seem to get so tied up with work that they forget to do things just for themselves. We’re so caught up in trying to earn money, and we attach monetary significance to everything. It is vital to continue to have hobbies and interests outside of your job. It isn’t necessary to be really good at something; you can learn something new from scratch. Join a club, attend a class, a writing workshop, a painting class, pottery, anything that suits your fancy. If you don’t want to go out, you can read, dance, sing, and write anything you like. If you don’t want a hobby, join a club, a walking club, hiking club, book club, or anything that makes you feel happy. The point is to know that there is no age where you should stop working on yourself and your happiness.
Overworking and work-related stress have long been a reason for unrest among families. We spend a large part of the day at work. Much of our time and energy goes into it, so it is only natural to carry some of that energy into our personal lives. It is impractical to ask people to be utterly indifferent to the circumstance at work. Human beings cannot be completely unaffected by their surroundings, so it is natural to be receptive to the highs and lows of work life. Often these things bleed slowly into our personal lives and lead to quarreling and disturbances. While it may not be possible not to discuss your work with your friends and family, it is a good idea to keep the conversations to a minimum. You can come home and express your distress over something that happened at work, and you can even ask for advice. What you should not do, is take out your frustrations on people who do not even know what is bothering you. Communication is the best weapon to combat almost every vice out there. If you can communicate your work-related frustrations to your family, everyone involved will better handle the situation at home.
You may know someone who tries all of this yet cannot succeed at leaving their work in the workplace. You might even be someone who doesn’t find it easy to separate the two. We are taught a lot of covertly toxic things about work while we’re growing. We are taught that if you do not succeed at one job, that you’re a failure. We are taught to waste our time trying to achieve impractical goals rather than learning to move onward and upward. We hear maxims like ‘Do or die,’ but we’re rarely taught how to handle anything other than success and stellar results. We carry all this to our workspace and then wonder why we have an unhealthy relationship with work. Few people have the opportunity to learn how to live their life and work at the same time. There is no shame in being unable to cope with the pressure of work. It is perfectly normal to struggle to cope with work, and if you ever need some help with it, you could always go to a life coach or a therapist. Ultimately, the most important thing is to remember and cherish your individuality and life. Yes, work is essential, and yes, a lot rides on it but not everything.
So plan your work around your life, not vice versa, and you should be golden.