The quest for a work-life balance

An Oregon State University (OSU) study has found that thinking over and over again about conflicts between your job and personal life is likely to damage both your mental and physical health.

The study included more than 200 people, with results showing that “repetitive thought” was a pathway between work-family conflict and negative outcomes in six different health categories.

Repetitive thought regarding work-family conflict refers to thinking repeatedly and attentively about the parts of your job and your personal life that clash with each other: for example, that late-afternoon meeting that prevents you from attending your son’s baseball game. It’s a maladaptive coping strategy that impedes daily recovery from stress.

Lead author Kelly D. Davis Davis, an assistant professor in the OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, says repetitive thought over work-family conflict keeps the stressor active and thus gets in the way of recovery.

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A mindful solution

One technique that can help is mindfulness. This means intentionally paying attention to the present-moment experience, such as physical sensations, perceptions, affective states, thoughts and imagery, in a non-judgemental way.

“You stay in the moment and acknowledge what you are feeling, recognise that those are real feelings, and process them, putting things in perspective,” Davis said. “In the hypothetical baseball game example, the person could acknowledge the disappointment and frustration he was feeling as legitimate, honest feelings, and then also think in terms of ‘these meeting conflicts don’t happen that often, there are lots of games left for me to watch my child play, etc.'”

More than a parents’ issue

Work-family conflict is not just a women’s issue or even just a parent’s issue, Davis notes, given the number of workers who are caring for their own mother and/or father.

“Planning ahead and having a backup plan, having a network to support one another, those things make you better able to reduce work-family conflict,” Davis said. “But it shouldn’t just rest on the shoulders of the individual. We need changes in the ways in which organisations treat their employees. We can’t deny the fact that work and family influence one another, so by improving the lives of employees, you get that return on investment with positive work and family lives spilling over onto one another.”

Source: Oregon State University via Sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.