Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control

When your work life and personal life are out of balance, your stress level is likely to soar. Use these practical strategies to restore harmony.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life — and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task.

This might be especially true if you're concerned about losing your job due to restructuring, layoffs or other factors. Technology that enables constant connection to work can eat into time at home. Work-life balance can be especially difficult for parents of young children; almost 60 percent of employed first-time mothers in the United States return to work within 12 weeks after childbirth.

Still, work-life balance isn't out of reach. Start by evaluating your relationship to work. Then apply specific strategies to help you strike a healthier balance.

Married to your work? Consider the cost

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you're trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload — or simply keeping your head above water. If you're spending most of your time working, though, your home life will take a hit.

Consider the consequences of poor work-life balance:

  • Fatigue. When you're tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.
  • Poor health. Stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition. Stress also puts you at risk of substance abuse.
  • Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you're working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It's also difficult to nurture friendships if you're always working.
  • Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility — which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.
June 13, 2015 See more In-depth