Managing home and social life versus professional work and training (athletes) is a topic that seems to never fade. In recognition of International Men’s Health Week, we thought it appropriate to open with a blog with emphasis on how dads specifically face the challenge of managing a work-life balance. Learning tools to manage the stress of navigating this balance lets us enhance both our experience and performance in our personal and professional lives. This is also relevant to mothers, partners, and people without children, and we’ve included some practical TIPS to help.
Did you know that men have shorter life spans than women, including a Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) that is 5 years shorter than females? Factors that play into this range from not getting to the doctor regularly, to higher reliance on smoking and drinking, and less healthy ways of managing stress. Australian men even a suicide rate that is 3x higher than Australian women.
On top of these alarming societal concerns, dads face pressures that are often unrecognised by society, and so managing stress can be swept even further to the wayside. Often having the pressure of being the sole or primary bread winner, wanting to be there for their family but not having enough hours in the day, being expected to not worry but still facing the same worries for their children as mums do, being a dad isn’t necessarily synonymous with having “the easy job”. Having a 6 month old at home, we can attest to how readily your world-view and the way you think about work and stress can change suddenly. Life goes by quickly and it doesn’t take long before it can feel things have all got on top of you!
Whether you see any of the above factors as directly affecting yourself or someone you care about, or if you feel like you are in the “balanced zone”, we have an inherent opportunity to help improve mental wellbeing through learning how to better balance work-life stress. We encourage you to take a moment to consider - Am I feeling the effects of work-life stress?
In today’s society, we’d venture to guess you are, it’s just a matter of to what extent. Consider the following list of common thoughts, feelings, and actions:
Tired from managing competing demands between professional and home life tasks
Feeling that you aren’t able to live your values (e.g., seeing yourself as a family man, but working/training hours that leave you missing out)
Wanting to be available to your partner or children, but missing the subtle emotional cues of their needs
Losing fitness as your active lifestyle has dropped off a little, a lot, or even completely
Missing out on personal time and losing touch with friends
Going to bed and waking up tired or exhausted
Worrying about transferring stress to your children and family
Anxiety over being able to “provide” for your family
Sadness over losing time with loved ones
Feeling like your best just isn’t good enough
The demands of excelling professionally and personally can take it’s toll, and if you found yourself agreeing with any of these, and you might even have thought of some of your own, then now is a great time to start developing tools to living a more fulfilling life and tapping into your potential. Here are some simple things you can try now.
TIPS - Tapped In Performance Strategies for helping balance home and work
Develop a routine that includes 5-10 minutes (or more) relaxation each day
Develop your relationships by chatting with a friend or supportive partner about how you are doing and how your day is going
Develop a list of what means most to you and see what you can do to re-align your actions with your values
Discover the enjoyment in having a “mindful” cuppa during your morning or afternoon tea by drinking with curiosity at the textures, aromas, tastes, and feeling of each sip
Re-discover what it’s like to be young by taking 20 minutes to play with your children without any “adult” distractions. Follow their lead, play on the floor or run outside, commit to enjoying that time with them as that’s the only place you need to be right then
Discover your self-compassion by using positive affirmations to acknowledge your efforts in living your values
Recover your nervous system through diaphragmatic breathing. This helps to “reset” our parasympathetic nervous system and bring a sense of calm, especially when practiced regularly over time
Do some light stretches at work or as soon as you wake up, get home, or go to bed. Stretching out your jaw by opening and closing your mouth in a slow yawn and rol