With the rapid rise of remote work and flexible schedules, creating space between our professional and personal lives can feel almost impossible. Yet we know that being intentional about supporting our physical, emotional, and mental well-being can help us give our best at home and work while avoiding overwhelm and burnout.
In recognition of World Mental Health Day on October 10, we asked two Life Time Work team members — who are also in-club performers at Life Time — to share their best tips for finding work-life balance.
Meet the team members:
- Alicia Evans, Life Time Work Leader in St. Louis Park, Minn. and performer at Life Time Edina at Southdale
- Peter Larson, Life Time Work hospitality team member and performer at Life Time Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn.
1. Set boundaries around working time.
Boundaries around work hours can look different for everyone. For example, one person may feel good about not checking email past 5 p.m., while another finds balance by not working on the weekends. Boundaries can be as rigid or flexible as you need them to be — just remember to be clear about them and stick to them.
“Once it’s 5 p.m., I’m off the clock. I don’t answer emails outside of business hours,” says Evans. “I made this decision for myself early on in my professional life. With the digital nature of work these days, it’s easy to just continue working even after leaving the office. Allowing myself that personal boundary gives me the proper time to shut down my brain for the day and to recharge.”
2. Explore interests outside of work and make room for fun.
Aim to not let your daily routine just revolve around work. Instead, refocus your day around your own needs and interests. Make weekly after-work plans with friends, join a recreational sports league, take a class — anything that brings joy to your day.
“We often identify so strongly with our professional titles that we limit our potential for developing other skills and talents,” says Larson. “Whether it’s joining a group fitness class, enrolling in a community education course, volunteering, or performing at your local theater, there are plenty of options to expand our lives outside of work. Making space for these activities can help you live a balanced, enriching, and meaningful life.”
Evans also encourages looking for opportunities to have fun and laugh throughout the workday.
“I love a good sprinkle of humor in everything!” she says. “It’s the best way to get through the day. A small chuckle or joke here and there. Life is too short to not enjoy what you’re doing.”
3. Add in movement where you can.
The far-reaching effects of movement are well-known, including its ability to support mental health along with the other brain benefits of alertness, perception, concentration, learning, memory, and creativity.
“I like to motivate myself by getting up and moving around in between work tasks. It helps me to push through and finish something knowing that I can take a couple of minutes to stretch or walk around the space at Life Time Work,” says Evans. “I find it also helps to keep drinking water throughout the day — I get up and walk whenever I need to refill my water bottle.”
Larson notes that most Life Time Work members are good about getting up from their desks and getting their steps in. “Some choose to stand at their desks or use the stairs rather than the elevator,” he says. “On nice days they may walk the patios. Some attend group fitness classes at Life Time over their lunch break. Others choose to work out before or after work.
“Another tip is to find a fitness class time that you can consistently schedule,” Larson adds. “And if you find a few workout buddies, then you have a healthy commitment to look forward to and people to help keep you accountable.”
4. Listen to your body and rest when needed.
When it comes to work-life balance, your body often knows best. “Pay attention to your mental and physical health,” Evans advises. “Give your body what it needs and be kind to yourself. Taking a break or a day off isn’t going to make or break your goals — and may better serve you over time than pushing through challenging moments.”
Evans advises checking in with yourself often for this purpose. “If I’m feeling overwhelmed by a project and really need to focus, I take a step away and change my scenery to a quieter space so that I can think properly,” she explains. “If I need a five-minute mental health break to reset, I give myself permission to do so. I can only perform at my best with the proper rest.”
5. Prioritize lunch and snack breaks.
It can be easy to forgo your lunch in the name of productivity, but taking that break is one way to avoid burnout. Whether you use that time to eat, go for a walk, or just briefly step away from your desk, a few minutes makes a big difference. Plus, fueling yourself with nutritious eats can keep your day running smoothly.
“As I have grown in my career, it’s now more apparent than ever to me to make time for myself,” says Evans. “You need to set aside time for breaks instead of waiting until you are at your breaking point and desperately need one. Most people think about this in terms of vacations — which are also important to take — but don’t underestimate the power of daily breaks, too.”
“Since I’m on my feet for the majority of the workday, I pack high-protein snacks like nuts, cheese, and beef jerky along with raw fruits,” says Larson. “I also refrain from caffeine after noon each day. On the days I teach class after work, I make sure to have a snack to tide me over between leaving the office and arriving at the club.”
6. Cultivate an environment that works for you.
If you have the flexibility, choose a work environment that feels right for you. Work in an office? Personalize your space with items that bring you joy, such as plants, photos, or other décor. Work from home? Create a calming, productive environment by diffusing essential oils, playing relaxing music, or decorating with soothing colors.
Because the right work environment is different for everyone — perhaps you enjoy being in an open space with others while your colleague prefers the solitude of a closed office — the team behind Life Time Work intentionally designed the spaces to offer a variety of solutions and spaces for members to be productive and integrate balance into their routines.
“In addition to thinking about members’ workspace preferences, we also are intentional about making wellness convenient for them,” says Larson. “Since many of our Life Time Work locations are located near or next to a Life Time athletic country club, our members are able to step away from their desks and blend health and wellness into their daily routines before, during, or after their workday.”