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Productivity and good health: Finding your balance

By Kaitlin Myette

Work-life balance is such an important aspect to living a healthy and productive lifestyle. Being able to manage a healthy balance between both your work and personal life helps to contribute to reduced stress, improved mental health and reduction from burn-out or chronic stress.

According to a recent study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – the majority of Canadians report feeling overwhelmed.

Finding a healthy balance between work and personal life is very individualized, so identifying what that means to you will be the first step.

Balance is defined as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” When we relate this to our own personal experiences and life, many find it difficult to maintain this equilibrium.

While some of us have an understanding of what balance means to us and the challenges we face in achieving it, many of us are not as tuned-in. One of the key elements in achieving balance and good mental and physical health is being self-aware – of what you need to stay physically and mentally healthy, and of the signs of when your mental and physical health start deteriorating. 

Some indications that you are becoming out of balance or headed for burnout include:

1. Feeling overly stressed over issues that you could previously cope with

2. Lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed

3. Feeling a loss of control in life

4. Feeling overwhelmed and agitated

5. Having difficulty concentrating and reduced focus

6. Having difficulty completing tasks at work

7. Neglecting relationships 

8. Feeling less happy about your life and future overall

Identifying the issues is the first step to regaining control in your life.

How can you regain or maintain your equilibrium? Having access to resources that help individuals regain and maintain a healthy lifestyle can play an important role.

Many of us are fortunate to have access to programs through employer group benefits programs such as access to employee and family assistance (EFAP) programs, and to paramedical practitioners such as psychologists, social workers, counsellors and even practitioners such as massage therapists. 

Many employers are recognizing and adapting their employee benefit programs to encompass wellness (the state of being in good health, both mentally and physically). A recent study by Morneau Shepell has shown a significant improvement from 2014 to 2018 in workplace support for mental wellness.  

Employers are recognizing the need to support their employees and their families with their mental health and are implementing health and wellness strategies to combat the rising issues most Canadians are facing such as depression, anxiety, burn-out, absenteeism, presentism and other disabilities related to mental health.

Understanding when to reach out for help is the first step in regaining or increasing the control and balance in your life. While many of us know the services that are available and the benefit they bring to us, many are not reaching out and getting the support we need. 7.5 million Canadians suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse or other mental health disorders each year but only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them. 

It is imperative that we do our part as employers, co-workers, friends and family to end the stigma about mental health and open the dialogue about the support and resources available.  

The greater the promotion, the more likely employees will know about and take advantage of the services available to them – whether through an EFAP, their local family health care team or community providers. Ultimately, the result is a healthier, happier individual and a stronger and more productive work environment. 

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