Ever feel like trying to balance work and your social life is like trying to slalom ski with your boss, two toddlers and three elephants stacked on your shoulder, all with one arm tied behind your back during a hurricane? Us too.
You have a huge deadline at work and a friend’s surprise birthday party that you absolutely cannot miss. Your client is flying into town for an important presentation and you know your daughter will never forgive you if skip out on her first soccer game.
But as nebulous and cliched an ideal it may be (along with world peace), we keep trying to catch it.
And we have to—for our health. Chronic stress can cause long-term wear and tear on our bodies and is directly linked to headaches, high blood pressure and depression, to name a few.
But rest assured, we’re all in this together. Here are our top 5 ways to keep fighting the good balance fight.
1. DON’T GO HOME.
This doesn’t mean ever. It merely means, to fit in your social life in a work-heavy week, go straight from work to happy hour because, let’s be honest, the second you walk into your cozy home where your cozy pajamas and cozy Netflix are, you’re not going back out.
So, how to pull this off? It’s all in the prep. Before leaving for work in the morning, pack the going-out necessities, including but not limited to: protein bar and a can of your favorite flavor of B4. Let your hair down, lose the blazer, change from flats into heels, and get to the bar before happy hour’s prices are over.
2. WORK OUT AT LUNCH.
Is there a gym near your office? Use your 1-hour lunch for a 45-minute workout. This means you have 7.5 minutes to change before and after your workout. This also means that your evening is open for social-life-partaking rather than gym-session-straining.
You can eat your lunch (like everyone secretly wants to) at 11 a.m. at your desk because by 11 a.m. you’re already starving and ready for a break from your computer screen. Don’t worry if you come back to work a little sweaty. It will only inspire more people to do what you’re doing. You, revolutionary, you.
3. BRING THE KIDS WITH YOU.
It’s OK to bring kids to social events. We’re not saying to frequent the raunchy, smoky dive bar, but rather a family-friendly, fun ambiance restaurant. And it’s OK to bring the iPad and let them have some screen time while you have some me-time.
Yes, we know too much screen time is no good, but think of it as refilling your sanity tank for the week. The health benefits outweigh the risks and you can feed the kids dinner there, too. Another thing to check off your evening to-do list.
Also, if you turn the show on mute and turn the subtitles on, it’s kind of like they’re reading a book. Think of it as a win-win.
4. THURSDAYS ARE THE NEW FRIDAYS.
Try a ritual of doing something fun on Thursday nights, be it joining a slow-pitch softball league, going to trivia night at your favorite local bar or starting a supper club with (fun) neighbors. Heck, you can even just organize a weekly happy hour with coworkers.
Whatever you choose, drink a B4, have a great night, then wake up happy to go to work Friday because you’ve already started your weekend o’ fun. It’s like having a lifetime of three-day weekends. Kind of.
5. TURN YOUR CELL PHONE INTO A LANDLINE.
A huge part of achieving a work-life balance is to work hard while at work and work hard not to work when you aren’t at work.
Since we all carry around a cell-phone shaped tether that ties us to our work desks, when you get home, turn your cell phone into a landline. This means, pretend your cell phone has a curly cord like the old days and is tied to a wall in your kitchen. If it rings, you walk and pick it up.
Talk standing in that same spot, as if you can’t move around because of the cord, and then place it back on the counter when you’re done. No checking email. No responding to your co-workers during non-work hours.
Be protective of your precious time and set boundaries.