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Tips for a Balanced Work and Social Life
By Maryse Mignott
Health experts worldwide resoundingly agree that workers in all labor categories must maintain a balance between their work and social lives. The dangers of more or over work and less socializing cannot be emphasized enough especially for the Londoner. The advantages to having an active social life are many. Finding a healthy balance between our work and social lives is not always easy but some efforts towards developing that balance can assure we stay productive on the job and at the same time have a satisfying and healthy personal life.
We have all heard of the dangers of stress and overwork. But what about those of us that love to work or have to work for various reasons? There has to be more to life than working at our jobs. How do we find a balance that keeps us healthy in both these important areas of our lives? Years of research and scholarly studies from experts in the UK, London, and worldwide have found the answers to these questions.
While this article is about offering you tips on developing that balance, it is important to highlight the dangers any one of us can succumb to if we don't play or socialize in addition to working. An awareness of your stress levels or symptoms of stress can give you a hint that you need more of a social life. Indicators of stress are many but the main symptoms to watch for are:
- Migraines or headaches occurring more often
- Inability to concentrate
- Not wanting to get up in the morning or insomnia
- Sudden mood swings not normal for you
- Isolation from friends and family
The last bullet point mentions isolation. Isolating behaviors such as going to work and sitting at home every night, avoidance of friends and family, and not partaking in little social outings/activities, are probably the single most dangerous thing we can do for our physical and mental health.
Our physical and emotional states of well being depend upon a healthy balance of work and play. The following tips will help you avoid this common danger.
- Organize a social calendar. Just like your daily to-do lists at work, start planning a social to-do list. Knowing what social activities appeal to you is essential towards organizing your social calendar. I have found www.exclusivelondon.co.uk an excellent source for researching ideas or social activities you may want to consider placing in your calendar. Find the time before or after work to get out into the London social scene.
- Dine out. Many professionals in the work force are starting to see the satisfaction and pleasure in taking the time to experience food consumption in a whole new way. I m not talking about going to a restaurant and quickly getting your meal down your throat and into your belly. I am talking about expanding your culinary horizons. For example, try ethnic cuisine or a new food you have never eaten before. Dine for hours at a trendy restaurant and savor an eight-course meal with a fine wine or cocktail. Most importantly, take your time and enjoy the experience.
- Dance the night away. The benefits to a night out of dancing could never be overstated. The obvious benefits are the exercise and calorie burning. Dance experts have long asserted that dancing tones the body in a way no other form of physical activity can accomplish. Dancers are considered among the elite in athleticism and discipline. Dancing also offers social opportunities to meet new people. It gives you an outlet to work out aggression and the strains of the workday. Overall, dance is a complete source of exercise for the physical, social and mentally healthy self.
- Soothe your soul with music. Take in a concert or musical affair. Choose your favorite music and attend an event that will fill you with the sounds of your favorite melodies. Music has long been a part of the human experience. It has been used for centuries to allow the human being an experience beyond their physical bodies. It can be said that music will lighten your mood and nurture your soul. Music, in a form that appeals to you, can quiet your mind and release the pain of the workday.
- Exercise. Consider membership in a health or fitness club. A healthy physical body will give the hard working professional the energy needed to be both highly productive with job demands and the ability to keep up with an active social calendar. Other means of getting good exercise can be a walk in the park or bring out the child in you and dance around the house while getting ready for work.
- Take in some culture with art or theatre. Museums and the theatre are fantastic venues in which to have a quiet and reflective personal experience. The visual delight of examining a piece of art that touches you in a special way or watching a theatre performance that moves you in a positive manner can be extremely beneficial. Not every social event on your calendar has to include other people. Socializing with you, for yourself can very often be just as healthy an experience as being around hundreds or thousands of people.
- Getaway to a fine hotel or spa. From a great deal of research and personal experience, three days at a spa is just about perfect. Like many of you, I often don't have the time for a one-day vacation much less three days however; I have found that a 3-day mini-vacation has its merits. It's just long enough to take in the full benefits of a massage, swimming, facials and some of the other amenities the hotel or spa has to offer. If one day is all you can take the time for, then do that. Try to do this at least twice a year. P.S. Leave the cell phone off, leave the laptop at home and tell the front desk you are taking no calls.
- Go shopping. Indulge in a shopping trip every now and then. All of us need to treat ourselves to that special dress or suit. Buying that toy or electronic game we always wanted can only make life a bit better. Even shopping for food can be a great way to socialize. Take the time to say hello to the checkout clerk or butcher that has been serving you for years. A simple exchange of smiles is a social interaction that benefits all people on many unimaginable levels.
- Involve your co-workers on your social calendar. There is nothing better than the buddy system for a healthy social (and work) life. Let's face it, engaging in some social activities is just no fun alone. Keep in mind, socializing with co-workers can also be a great way to maintain healthy work relationships.
- Breathe. This may sound simple and unimportant because it is a natural activity we take part in every second of the day. Let me assure you, we can often stop breathing for several seconds at a time. The biological and rhythmic breathing pattern of humans often gets interrupted for many reasons. Stress and automatic response to difficulties in life are just a few of the reasons this occurs. Why is this important? One reason is because we need to maintain a regular and healthy breathing pattern throughout our bodies for optimal oxygen intake. Lack of oxygen can be responsible for depression, fatigue and damage at the cellular level of our bodies, to name a few. Good breathing flow and control can keep you loaded with energy as well as provide a healthy balance between mind and body. It will also make your work life much more tolerable.
Remember that it's not always about where, how or how long or with whom you socialize. Socializing can be as simple as sitting alone and enjoying the flavors of good food and libations, exercising a couple hours a week at a favorite gymnasium with friends or standing front and center at a major rock concert. The point is to get out and be social. Taking these suggestions will get you out. No matter what profession you work in a healthy balance in work and social life will keep you mentally healthy and energized, stress-free and socially empowered.