Work is a common stressor in the United States, and the work culture that surrounds many people may have them working longer hours each and every week, leaving little time for each individual to decompress and get a break for their own health. This kind of work-life imbalance can lead to a number of different issues as someone begins to grasp at various methods to self-medicate themselves in order to deal with the stresses of work. However, there are some signs that someone can look for, either in themselves or in a loved one, in order to help determine a healthy work-life balance, or if their work-life balance is tending towards unhealthy practices. Establishing a proper work-life balance is important to combat many of the feelings of anxiety, depression, or exhaustion that may come as a result of improperly managing one’s personal and professional lives, and preventing dangerous methods of coping or self-medication as a result.
Identifying Problematic Signs
Work-life imbalance can manifest in a number of ways. First, it is important to look at how many hours someone is on the clock each day and each week. Working long hours may be a trait that is rewarded by the ideas surrounding work culture in the United States, but it isn’t a healthy practice for any individual. Working too many hours prevents each person from being able to unwind in their own personal ways, or even get the necessary amount of sleep that they may need in order to continue functioning at a healthy level. Long hours may have someone leaving for work first thing in the morning, and returning after nightfall only to instantly fall asleep on the bed, leaving no time for people to engage with their own interests, progress their own personal lives, or interact with their families. This leads to feelings of isolation and anxiety while leaving each person with little time and few outlets in which to work through the exhaustion.
Improper work-life balance may also exist when someone is off the clock. Even when someone isn’t getting paid for their time, it may be difficult for individuals to mentally let go of the workday, and will instead use their own personal time to continue thinking about the workplace. While it is important to plan for the day ahead, someone who is constantly thinking about work and lacks other personal outlets may find themselves in a similar, exhausted, and anxiety-ridden state as work can become the only identifier of someone’s unique identity.
This lack of personal time and rest can lead someone who is suffering from work-life imbalance to suffer at the workplace as well, as attendance may become spotty and performance on the job may become compromised as the mental and physical fatigue begin to set in. These feelings of stress can further the development of anxiety or depression and can leave people in a desperate state as they search for ways to cope with their exhaustion and lack of personal outlets.
Dangers of Drugs or Alcohol as a Result of Work-Life Imbalance
As someone is left both exhausted and with little time to themselves, they may seek solace in a kind of coping mechanism that is both easily accessible, as well as fast-acting. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are usually the things that fit this bill, and this causes a number of problems. Not only does it mean that someone is establishing their own relaxation inherently tied to the use of drugs or alcohol, but those who are feeling like they are unable to pursue their own personal lives may also then assume that there aren’t going to be personal or familial ramifications for their actions. Coupled with the idea that going to the bar after work is a socially accepted practice, this positive connotation of drugs or alcohol can quickly develop into an unhealthy coping mechanism. Noticing these signs of work-life imbalance, or the beginning of an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism may indicate a need for someone to seek professional guidance in order to begin to manage their own work-life balance in a healthy manner.
Seeking professional help for one’s own work-life imbalance and coping mechanisms can take a number of forms. By providing help with addressing drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism or finding one’s identity outside of the workplace, someone can begin to explore the idea of their own self-worth. These kinds of transformations will look different for each person, and the process for someone realizing their own self-worth outside of their worth on the clock in a company may vary. However, it is a necessary transition not just for someone to explore healthy coping mechanisms and grounding strategies, but also in helping someone reestablish their own personal goals outside of business, and begin pursuing their own professional goals, personal goals, and self-care all in equal measure.
Your career and personal lives are both important in establishing a healthy, complete day, and need to work in tandem to create a sense of safety and comfort on a personal level, as well as a financial one. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or mental health issues as a result of the stresses brought about by work-life imbalance, START UP RECOVERY can help design and curate a recovery plan that is right for you. Each of the residents at START UP RECOVERY are encouraged to take their own transformation into their own hands, while working alongside professionals to instill practical and effective coping mechanisms to help each person deal with the daily stressors that anxiety, depression, or addiction may bring. For more information on how START UP RECOVERY can help you begin your transformational path, or to speak to a trained staff member about your unique situation and the options available to you, call us today at (310) 773-3809.