We may not think it at the time, but enjoying a day of fishing or a visit to the movies with a loved one can have a profound impact on our overall health journey. While we are all familiar with the phrase “work-life balance,” many of us likely feel unsure about exactly what it means, how to maintain it long-term, or how to achieve it for ourselves.
Our team recently had the unique opportunity to hear from a panel of six colleagues about what work-life balance has looked like for them at various seasons throughout their life. All six panelists were men, and it was particularly interesting to hear the under-shared perspectives of working fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. The group shared about how they have both struggled and succeeded to juggle work and family responsibilities with travel, exercise, hobbies, and more – as well as the impact their efforts have had on their quality of life. Here are some of the things they had to say about finding balance in their busy lives:
“Let go of the guilt If you skip a few workouts or a few days of exercise to spend time with your family or just to take a rest. Holding onto guilt can really hinder your progress. Just work hard on being present with any choice you make – being present is a discipline by itself…and remember to take it easy on yourself.” — Mark, Senior Vice President, Claim Performance Solutions
“We’re happy with the move [to a new state], but even still, moving is hard. Sometimes the family is putting on a brave face, as the unfamiliar can be challenging. As the father of the family, I feel an obligation to foster everyone through that, and I think that has helped me realize that it’s possible to overcommit anywhere in life – including at home. I am often guilty of saying I’ll walk the dog…and then not walking the dog, or failing to run errands I said I’d run. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the way the pandemic has changed our life is that, if stuff matters, I’m capable of overcommitting to it.” — George, Vice President, Client Services
“Even if you don’t think you can do it, sometimes you just need to throw the kids in the car and go out for dinner. Go to that party you were invited to, but felt overwhelmed by. Sometimes what you need most is to get out of the house and see your friends and family to reset. So, if you’re feeling stuck, just do it and figure out the details when you get to your destination. Even if it doesn’t go smoothly, you’ll be glad you made the effort.” — Kevin, Customer Relationship Manager
“When you feel off-balance, it’s ok – and important – to recalibrate. Take a look at all the demands on you and try to identify small, manageable ways you can start to make changes. If you get an email at seven o’clock at night and find yourself tempted to go answer it, pause and ask if it can wait. Recalibrating is a constant process – it might be day by day or week by week, but those changes add up.” — Shawn, Chief of Staff
“I adopted getting up earlier in the morning, so I started getting to bed earlier – even by 30-60 minutes. Now, I get things done first thing in the morning that I would have normally been trying to fit in at the end of a long day. I can take some quiet time for myself to turn on the TV and do some stretches, or check off some important tasks, ultimately gaining back valuable time at the end of the day when I’m also trying to meet all the kids’ needs.” — Chris, Lead Generation Specialist, Aevo Services
In addition to highlighting some of the simple ways to make room for self-care in our lives, holding this conversation during Men’s Health Month also underscores the importance of encouraging men to recognize and care for their health needs. Women are more likely to discuss their mental and emotional health with loved ones and to seek diagnoses for physical health issues they experience. In fact, according to a recent study of approximately 1,200 men by the Cleveland Clinic, 20% of those surveyed admitted that they have not always been completely honest with their medical provider due to embarrassment, an unwillingness to change their lifestyle/diet, or fear of confirming and confronting any health issues. Additionally, 82% of the men reported wanting to stay healthy and live longer for the people who rely on them, yet only 50% of them engage in preventative healthcare.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues for many people who abandoned or delayed healthcare visits, and it has also shined a spotlight on the importance of work-life balance for overall health. In March of 2020, many working Americans suddenly found themselves having to juggle remote work, childcare, remote schooling, and more – all while under immense financial strain and without the ability to see friends and family or enjoy their usual hobbies. The increased rates and incidences of depression that have resulted over the last two years have particularly serious implications for men, who are far less likely to disclose their struggles to others and seek treatment due to social pressures to keep their feelings silent or to be “tough” in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, this can result in many undiagnosed cases of depression and contributes to the fact that men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
So, while a game of golf or a single night out for dinner might not constitute healthcare on their own, hearing from our own teammates how prioritizing self-care has impacted them and their families, we are reminded that work-life balance is in fact a key part of a healthy lifestyle. In seasons when we don’t have as much time or capacity as we once did, that might mean replacing a full afternoon of 18 holes with a 30-minute walk or jog – maybe while pushing a stroller!
We also want to recognize that part of a healthy work-life balance is making time for preventative healthcare and routine examinations. Even as Men’s Health Month comes to a close, this conversation should continue. Men who are interested in doing more to prioritize their health can click here for the Men’s Health Network’s “Time Out for Men’s Health,” which provides a self-assessment quiz designed to help men evaluate how well they are caring for themselves and their long-term health.
When we prioritize our own health and well-being, we put our best foot forward for our families, friends, and communities. We will conclude with this quote from our colleague Matt, who participated in the panel, and a question: What is one action you can take today toward a healthier future?
“For me, staying in balance starts with recognizing the things I want to be sure I stay in balance with – my work, my family, and my personal hobbies. And keeping family first is extremely important to me. I’ve been able to find that time for myself to enjoy my hobbies without sacrificing family time by being creative with my schedule, often by getting up early on a Saturday morning so I can take a long drive, do some fly fishing, and still be home by 9 or 10 am to spend the day with my family. Work/life balance is not an accident or something that just happens – it’s an intentional effort.” — Matt, Director, Client Services
Nothing in this post is intended as health advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way. The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.