Striking a Work-Life Balance Improves Gut Health
After years of career advancement being forced down our throats, society is finally waking up to the importance of work-life balance. It was just 2014 that the average person worked 47 hours per week 1. The most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary finds that the typical workweek is now 34.4 hours 2. It’s no wonder the gut health industry has blossomed alongside this decline in time spent working.
We’re becoming more aware of the implications of a stressful lifestyle. Stress triggers inflammation. Inflammation is the root of all of our problems, including skin conditions, pain, and mental health issues.
Our gut is the first line of defense against chronic inflammation and long-term illnesses 3. Therefore, stressful work situations can cause gastrointestinal distress that harms our gut health. Here’s how to strike a work-life balance.
Why Work-Life Balance is Important
A study involving 16,000 people found that 94% of the workforce feels stressed out from their jobs 4.
Seeing as a majority of our waking time is at work, we should like what we do.
Worst case scenario, we should tolerate it.
However, the worst-case scenario is looking more like stomach ulcers, heart disease, and cancer.
For instance, a study involving stressed medical students found,
“The academic stress situations of academic overload and lack of time are predictive for having IBS. In addition, diarrhea is more common than constipation and mixed bowel habits in the medical students 5.”
– Libyan J Med.
We always say we’d switch spots with kids a second. So, if students are developing GI issues from work-related stress, imagine how their providers must feel.Now, parents may suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) too. However, their body has probably already dealt with this issue, on top of a litany of others. Therefore, worse conditions can develop on aging and weakening systems, such as colorectal cancer or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD).
Troubles with Finding a Work-Life Balance
Finding a work-life balance is going to seem like a culture shock. This sentiment is especially true if you’re still hungry and clamoring to elevate up the corporate ladder. You can still have that drive and find that right balance. You’re just going to have to be more efficient with time management.
If you find a work-life balance now, then you can carry these techniques with you as you ascend in your career. You need to create boundaries now. Otherwise, you stand almost no chance when the responsibilities amp up.
Tips for Finding a Work-Life Balance
Figuring out a work-life balance is going to take some time. You need to break some old habits. Being “on” at all times is ingrained in your DNA. So, you need to retrain the mind to be less dependent on your job.
Plus, others are going to have to change their behaviors as well. People might be used to leaning on you 24/7. Your changes are going to force them to adapt.As an unselfish employee, you’ll probably have to ease them into this new routine. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like you are making any progress. You are! Get out of your head and stop worrying. Finding a work-life balance is supposed to be cathartic, not stressful.
Ways to Find a Work-Life Balance
Think striking a work-life balance is impossible? Well, anything is with that mindset. Come into this process with an open mind. Here are some tips for finding a work-life balance to improve your gut health and overall wellness.
Map Out Your DayTime management is essential for finding a work-life balance. You might find little holes in the day where you can take moments for yourself. See where you can sneak in a walk around the building or maybe a quick workout.
Also, creating a to-do list and prioritizing the tasks will help you work more efficiently. You are less likely to get off-track or procrastinate. You have a plan, and now you know how to achieve it. If you finish your work sooner, perhaps you can negotiate leaving a little earlier?
Factor in Me-Time
As your about to find out, the key to work-life balance is making lists and planning. Now that you have your workday done, factor in the time outside of work. Say you have eight-hour workdays and sleep for eight more. You have eight more hours to spend on the things that really matter.
Obviously, these moments are spent being a parent, homeowner, and friend. So, think of your typical routine and how long it takes you. Factor in exercise time, the bi-weekly spa treatment, or night classes. Once you have the essentials pegged, it’ll be easier for you to slice out me-time.
Stop Checking Emails
A recent analysis found that we spend almost six hours per day reading emails 6. If that’s being done during work, when do we actually have time to get work done. We don’t.
So, many of us will bring work home with us. As they say, “don’t mix business with pleasure.” Try leaving the work at work, including your email. Put an away message up, and don’t think about your job anymore.
If you have a job where answering an email is life or death, find limitations. Put a filter on your email that screens people. Allow exclusive access to key individuals. Everyone else can wait until tomorrow.
Also, this may be unrealistic for those moving up the corporate ladder. Just like social media can be addictive, so is email. Don’t answer every email. Reply just to higher-ups or time-sensitive questions. Everything else can take a backseat to your work-life balance.
Use Your Time Off
768 million vacation days went unused last year 7. Don’t feel pressure of being penalized. You are guaranteed this time off. Mistreatment or penalization of cashing in on your benefits breaks employment laws.
Even if you’re not sick, call in. Use that time to take a day trip with a loved one. Catch up on your sleep. Do something that brings you joy. Just make sure you’re not working!
Meditation is an excellent tool for fighting off an unbalanced work-life situation. When you meditate, you hit the reset button. You become one with the moment and no longer stew in your thoughts like potato in…well, stew.
An article released by Reuters noted,
“Teachers and support staff working at a school for children with behavior problems felt less stressed after practicing 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day for four months…Starting stress levels among the participants had averaged 39 on a 40-point scale and fell 5 points by the end of the study period. In comparison, 20 school staffers who did not meditate started with stress levels around 37 on the same scale and those rose 2 points during the same period 8.”– Reuters
Practicing mindfulness through meditation can also improve the diversity of bacteria in your gut. You become more aware of potential issues with your system so you can remedy the situation properly.
If you need help getting your gut health track, get your gut tested with Ombre. We can test your stomach bacteria to help you fight off inflammation that causes your system stress. Based on these results, we recommend a strain-specific probiotic that will help you find gut biome balance in your work-life balance journey.
- 1 Saad, Lydia. “The ‘40-Hour’ Workweek Is Actually Longer — by Seven Hours.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 16 May 2019, news.gallup.com/poll/175286/hour-workweek-actually-longer-seven-hours.aspx.
- 2 “Employment Situation.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 Dec. 2019, www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.toc.htm.
- 3 Liu, Y. Z., Wang, Y. X., & Jiang, C. L. (2017). Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 11, 316. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316.
- 4 Hansen, Brianna. “Crash and Burnout: Is Workplace Stress the New Normal?” Wrike, 6 Sept. 2018, www.wrike.com/blog/stress-epidemic-report-announcement/.
- 5 Pozos-Radillo, E., Preciado-Serrano, L., Plascencia-Campos, A., Morales-Fernández, A., & Valdez-López, R. (2018). Predictive study of academic stress with the irritable bowel syndrome in medicine students at a public university in Mexico. The Libyan journal of medicine, 13(1), 1479599. doi:10.1080/19932820.2018.1479599.
- 6 Russell, Emma, and Stephen A. Woods. “Personality Differences as Predictors of Action-Goal Relationships in Work-Email Activity.” Computers in Human Behavior, Pergamon, 24 Sept. 2019, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563219303504.
- 7 “Paid Time Off Trends in the U.S. .” Paid Time Off Trends Fact Sheet, US Travel Association , 23 Feb. 2019, www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/Paid%20Time%20Off%20Trends %20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=8%2E15%2E19%2DPress% 2DVacation%20Days %20Release&utm_campaign=pr.
- 8 Raven, Kathleen. “Meditation Might Reduce Workplace Stress.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 13 Feb. 2014, www.reuters.com/article/us-meditation-stress/meditation-might-reduce-workplace-stress-idUSBREA1C1VP20140213.