Work-life balance tips


Balancing your work and personal life can be challenging and stressful at times. These tips and strategies can help.

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Good work-life balance can help reduce the stress in your life and support your resilience. Review the tips and strategies below and choose those that make the most sense for you. Try one out and then come back for additional ideas.

Mindfulness stress reduction video

If I’m resilient, does it stop my stress?

Having a high level of resilience will not make you immune to stress.  Stress is inevitable, but resilience gives you the ability to adapt to challenging moments and bounce back more quickly.

Managing stress by embracing it as part of life can support the development of positive coping strategies.

Finding solutions to stress can start with these stress reduction videos.

Separating from work when you work from home

Working from home has become more common these days. How are you detaching yourself from work if you’re already at home? Are you taking your breaks and stopping for lunch? Disconnecting from work is important when leaving the office or site, but even more now when working at home. Once your “workday” is done, separate yourself from your workspace or clean-up the area you’re working in. 

For example, if you use your bedroom, living room or kitchen table to work, try to make sure that after your workday is over, those rooms turn back into what they are meant to be.  Leave it the way it is when you’re working but make an effort to put away your work things so you’re not reminded that you have a report due while eating your dinner or getting ready for sleep.

Giving your full attention to whatever you’re doing in the moment – working, eating, sleeping, reading, or talking with family or friends – improves the quality of the experience.

Screen fatigue

Technology has grown so much over the years; it’s become a part of our daily lives. We literally hold technology and all the information it provides, in the palm of our hands.  And much of our social interaction has now been facilitated through  virtual platforms. It’s great until it’s too much.

Take note of what your average screen time is for the day and then checkout the link developed by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy to get some tips to conquer screen fatigue.  

Balance your support network

What would you have if your organization shut down?  Your work is important but your social connections are what keep you grounded during transitions and stressful times.

Whether that’s family, friends or being out in your community, these are your connections to the world and it’s important to continue to cultivate them. Some ideas for sustaining your social connections include chatting on the phone, meeting to go for a walk, having a virtual catch-up or going for a picnic in the park. The ideas are endless and sometimes you just need to be a little more creative. Use Balancing your support network to think about the specific people from whom you both give and receive support.

How work can help

Balance is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle in both work and our personal lives. We have shared some ideas for improving balance in the moment which is a personal approach. Share these ideas with your employer on how they can support work-life balance for all employees.

Energizing break activities

Put one foot in front of the other and get some physical activity into your day! Reduce stress and take an energizing break.

It sounds repetitive to say: “go for a walk, a run, do a workout, it’ll make you feel better, etc.” However, Nike has three simple words for you: “Just Do It!” Who knows, you may even like it!

Not used to adding physical activity into your day? Start off small with these energizing break activity ideas.

21-day health challenge

You can help reduce stress by engaging in habits that support nutrition without giving up all your favourites. Simply add in healthy choices by:

  • Snacking on nourishing foods more often
  • Drinking more water throughout your day
  • Being aware of how much you consume when you’re stressed
  • Planning ahead to make it easier to have healthy choices available
  • Being present while you are eating, rather than doing it mindlessly while multi-tasking, can make a big difference in what and how much you eat. Writing down everything you eat is also shown to increase awareness and healthy choices.  

For the next 21 days, make sure you take that snack and lunch break and really enjoy rather than just consume food.

Let go of perfectionism

Perfectionism affects people in different ways. Some leverage perfectionism only at work, others only at home, and some in all areas of their life. Since perfect is an unattainable and unrealistic goal, perfectionism can become destructive to your well-being and relationships.

Identify what is good enough and avoid the stress-inducing perfectionist approach. Here’s a short video from Mary Ann Baynton, on letting go of perfectionism.

Deal with workload stress

The task at hand is not your enemy, although it may feel like it at times! Be mindful in your approach. Organize your time and take frequent short breaks if you have trouble focusing. Remember to:

  • Limit time-wasting activities
  • Let go of perfection

Here are some other workload management actions you can try or suggest to your organization.


Life can sometimes get so busy or be so routine that you’re no longer in touch with how you feel emotionally, mentally or physically.  Take some time to check out these free self-assessment tools. They can help you become aware of how you are feeling now.

Healthy break activities

Whether it’s a calming, energizing or relaxing break you need, have a look at these healthy break activities. One of the activities we love is “Imagine your ideal vacation”! It allows you to step outside your daily routine and get those creative juices flowing. You can take a moment to envision the location and what you’ll do there, or add more detail by looking into accommodations, local sites, tours and cuisine. And it’s all free because the only cost is your imagination.

Get your calm on

You can increase the feeling of calm before, during or after the storm.  Some people feel calm with breathing exercises, being out in nature or engaging in art. What matters is that you find what works best for you. “See the effort in focusing the mind as an exercise, not an exertion.”- Chaitanya Charan. Choose from among many different calming activities.


Let’s unplug! Take some time to step away from your phone and/or computer or anything that you’re currently working on. Set it aside and just enjoy the moment!

Phone and email notifications from work can distract you even when you’ve logged off for the day and can add to your stress. Unplugging gives you an opportunity to explore your interests and passions and gives you a greater sense of control and balance in life. No links or resources for this one; just unplug from your work environment at some point today.

Organize to reduce stress

Organization can help reduce your stress and provide more balance to your workday. By setting up your day with a list of daily goals and prioritizing your work, you increase your sense of accomplishment. Take a few minutes to tidy up your workspace and make sure the resources you need are close at hand. This can help your day go more smoothly. Decrease your sense of stress by organizing your work and life in a way that supports balance for you. Read more about tips for stress management.

The wisdom of emotions

You can be positive and look on the bright side, but do not dismiss difficult emotions without first exploring what they might be telling you. All emotions, positive or negative, contain wisdom for our growth and development. Learn to tap into this knowledge by learning the Functions of emotions.

Prevent burnout

If you’re emotionally exhausted or feel that you’re unappreciated and overwhelmed even though you continue to work hard, you may be approaching or are in burnout. Check out this resource to find ways to prevent burnout.

Improve your emotional intelligence

Building your emotional intelligence can help you manage how you react and how you respond to others. You can recognize your emotional triggers at work and home. Building your emotional intelligence can improve relationships and help control your stress. Learn more about emotional intelligence through this library of resources.

Improve your focus

Find ways to keep yourself calm and focused while working. Explore approaches until you find what works for you:

  • Play music, a podcast, or just background sounds.
  • Can’t work with sounds? Find ways to block out noise.
  • Uncomfortable? Find what is just right for you and be sure you don’t end up with back or neck pain.
  • Add a pillow, light a scented candle, get a plant or sit near a window.
  • Dress for success, whether that means comfy clothes or a business suit.
  • Take many short breaks to stay focused or take the entire 15 minutes away from your workstation to re-energize.

We’re all different so find what works for you and do it!

Assess your risk of burnout

Remember your wellbeing is important. Disconnect from your stress and not from your life. At the earliest moments of exhaustion or serious stress, recognize it’s time to take a step back.

Identify the source, detach from it, rest and refocus. When you’re ready, try the burnout assessment.

Accept help

You don’t have to balance work and life alone. Ask for help and accept help when it is offered. Talking through your challenges with someone else can immediately relieve some of your stress. Whether you are an independent professional or an employee, read the Accepting help section in the Independent professional article.

Assess where you are now

Take time to assess where you are right now. Understand your worth, your accomplishments, your energy and capacity. Once you know where you are, you can make decisions to move toward some new habits and let go of those that are not helpful for you. 

Welcome the insight and give yourself the opportunity to grow! Use the Assessing your current situation series of questions to help.

Start small

Take control of your work-life, start small and build your balance from there. Sounds simple, and it can be. Making little changes to your work-life balance is a good start, build with the little changes and appreciate the successes that will come from them. Then continue to grow at a manageable pace that is within your control.

Build resilience

Good work-life balance can help reduce the stress in your life and support your resilience. Want to learn more about resilience? Click on this link to create your own Plan for resilience.

The bottom line: you’re only human

The bottom line is you define how you show up in the world and how you control your work-life balance. None of us will escape challenges and hardships but developing our resilience and choosing to seek balance every day can help. Remember you’re only human and basic human needs drive all behaviour. See What drives behaviour? to learn more. 


Benefits Canada. (2018, August 7). Majority of Canadian employees rank work-life balance as good, excellent: survey. survey/#:~:text=Almost%2070%20per%20cent%20of,by%20staffing%20firm%20Robert%20Half.&text=Three%20per%20cent%20of%20male,it%20as%20good%20or%20excellent.

D’Souza, M. S. (2020). EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ITS INFLUENCE IN REDUCING WORK STRESS. Journal Homepage: http://www. ijmra. us10(04).

Fosslien, L., & Duffy, M. W. (2020). How to combat zoom fatigue. Harvard Business Review29.

Lee, D. J. (2014, 10 20). 6 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance. Retrieved from Forbes:

Mendy, J. (2020). Bouncing back from Workplace Stress: From HRD’s Individual Employee’s Developmental Focus to Multi-facetted Collective Workforce Resilience Intervention. Advances in Developing Human Resources22(4), 353-369.

Samat, M. F., Zaki, F. S. M., Rasidi, E. R. M., Roshidi, F. F., & Ghul, Z. H. (2020). Emotional Intelligence, Social Supports, Technology Advancement, Work Condition and Work-Life Balance among Employees.

Toniolo-Barrios, M., & Pitt, L. (2020). Mindfulness and the challenges of working from home in times of crisis. Business Horizons.

Contributors include.articlesAdriana RickettsDr. Ian M. F. ArnoldMary Ann BayntonSarah JennerWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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