Pitting Life And Work Against Each Other Is Bad For Mental Health: It's Time For A New Paradigm

At the risk of stating the obvious: most of us spend a lot of time at work. How we feel about work goes a long way toward determining our mental health. As business leaders, the work experience we create for our employees has a significant influence on their engagement, productivity, and overall happiness. Satisfaction at work most often translates into satisfaction in life.

Conversely, stress and dissatisfaction at work inevitably spill over into the rest of our lives. All too often, what gets diagnosed as a problem of work-life balance is just a symptom of something lacking in the work experience itself. A balance between work and life means little if we do not find our work fulfilling.

As I have written before, the idea of work-life balance is a well-intentioned but flawed attempt to help us lead happier lives. It suggests a zero-sum game and contributes to stress and anxiety by presenting us with an impossible balancing act. How we integrate work into the rest of our lives changes from day to day, week to week. The important thing is to be engaged and fulfilled by whatever activity we are in, regardless of what box we assign it to.

Work, life, and mental health

A recent work health survey by Mental Health America finds plenty of spillover effects between stress and dissatisfaction on the job and overall mental health:

More than half of respondents engage in unhealthy behavior (including substance abuse) to cope with workplace stress. Two-thirds of people say their sleep is negatively affected by workplace issues. Over

Keep reading this article on Forbes Small Business.

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