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6 Smart Ways to Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

Knocking it out of the park at work is an awesome feeling, and it can be extra gratifying if you’re working to impress your boss at a brand-new job or as a first-time manager. Though putting in long hours or being on call during important times can be key to showing your dedication, it’s also super important to maintain a healthy balance to avoid generosity burnout or adrenal fatigue. We recently chatted with Erika Joy Dunn, a certified health coach who founded The Wellness Mercantile while advocating for work-life balance. Keep reading for six things you can do to create boundaries that’ll help you set yourself up for success and happiness in every part of your life.

1. Make a mental shift. What good is free time if you can’t enjoy it? Dunn admits that drawing the line can be tough, having experienced it herself while working in the publishing industry, freelancing, and waiting tables. “Honestly, If someone had asked me if I had healthy boundaries between my work and personal life a few years ago, I probably would’ve looked at them like they were crazy — with a phone glued to my hand,” she says. Do you ever feel like you need to be available 24/7 and the first to chime in on an email thread to get ahead? Think again, because spreading yourself too thin will totally catch up with you after awhile.

Having learned the hard way, Dunn says that you need to free yourself from any thoughts about work or guilty feelings about *not* working during your downtime. “Take time to relax, recharge, and practice self-care,” she says. “This will actually make you more productive and focused when you come back to your work!”

2. Ditch expectations. “So many of us have a tendency to set high expectations for ourselves to juggle work and personal stuff all at once,” Dunn says. “Then, when we drop the ball or realize that we just don’t have the capacity to do it all at once, it’s easy to fall into a spiral of negative self talk.” Dunn says that easing up on yourself can help create realistic boundaries. “Make a conscious effort to speak kindly to yourself, forgive yourself, and create space for reflection,” she advises.

3. Hold yourself accountable. Good news: You hold the power in setting crystal clear boundaries that can help you lead a happier and healthier life. To start, first make a list of what you can’t tolerate or where you really need a clear division between work and play. “This might be the way a colleague speaks to you, or how friends make you feel when you need to cancel plans. Whatever the case, set guidelines that help you live your best life and do your best to stick to them.” It’s all about the balance.

4. Establish strong core values. “A deeper connection with yourself will help you set clear boundaries,” Dunn explains. She says to ask yourself, “Who am I? What are my values? What lights me up? How can I achieve my goals while still staying true to myself?” Your answers can help serve as a north star that keeps you healthy when lines start to get blurry.

5. Stand up for yourself. “Don’t be afraid to speak up to create necessary boundaries,” Dunn says. “It’s easy to shy away because you’re afraid of creating a conflict, but if something doesn’t work for you in your work or personal life, you need to say something.” Not sure how to respectfully go about it? Dunn tells us that she’s a fan of a concise, thoughtful, and firm response.

6. Create a personalized routine that works. Be it a morning ritual, evening routine, or something in between, doing things the same way regularly can help you create and maintain good habits. Dunn personally swears by a solid evening routine and suggests turning your phone off to spend uninterrupted time with people you care about once you call it quits for the day (bye, work email!). “Instead of sleeping with your phone on your nightstand, make time to meditate, journal, or read. You’ll be shocked when you see how much this helps create a clear divide that’ll give you the rest and restoration you need for the next day.” Perfect.

How do you set boundaries between work and play? Share your secrets with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)