A simple Google search for “work-life balance” reveals 98,600,000 results. Why do we still struggle to find work-life balance with all the resources available? It's the same reason we search for Bigfoot: It does not exist.
The very term work-life balance implies that work is not part of our lives, as if it were a separate entity. This idea is preposterous. When we enter the workplace, we do not spontaneously morph into a separate being, just as the reverse does not occur when we head home.
Consider my household first aid kit. I am the mother of two young boys, so our first aid kit is equipped with Dermabond, a suture kit along with suture and lidocaine, a pediatric laryngoscope with a set of Magill forceps, and then normal first aid accouterment such as bandages, tweezers, and antibiotic ointments. As an already paranoid human being, being an EP adds another layer of paranoia based on what I see at work every day. This comes home with me.
Another example is how I interact with parents or gravid women who present to the ED with various complaints. The fact that I carried two children and am now raising them gives me more street cred when I treat these patients. I am able to share personal experiences with these patients, and they find more confidence and comfort in the medical advice I offer. Again, work and life are not separate.
The key to finding balance is to remove the term work-life balance from our lexicon and replace it with life balance. We must make a personal inventory of what makes us happy and unhappy at work and at home. I have found I am done with all things work-related after working three to four days in a row. When I attempt to push past that, I am not happy and decompensate.
The same goes for home life. I am thrilled to cook for and craft with my family on the first day of being home with the kids. Beyond day four at home, I am begging to get back to work. I am a much happier person in general, and feel more balanced since having this revelation.
The next step in finding life balance is to balance what we put out with what we take in, meaning we can only give so much to others until our personal giving tanks are empty and we decompensate. We chose a profession in which the giving often exceeds the receiving. We must do another self-assessment to evaluate what we can do to maintain our generosity. I approached this by simply writing a list of all the things I find relaxing and replenishing. My list includes items such as sleep, exercise, and healthy eating. Sometimes one or two items on my list may take a hit, and I feel it physically and mentally.
Every Saturday, I sit down with my husband to analyze the upcoming week, and work in two hours a week when I can get in some form of exercise whether it is a spin class, yoga, or Pilates. That's literally just two hours of my 168-hour week dedicated to myself.
The journey to finding life balance is not an easy one. It is laden with obstacles, and one should expect a few fails. Do not be discouraged by them. Practice and time can make us all masters of finding balance, and we should share our personal victories with one another.
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