Work Life Balance and EI

People who believe they have equilibrium in their work/life balance are essentially saying they are not suffering undue stress. A work/life balance is a dynamic equilibrium, as no one’s private life ever follows a monotonous pattern without peaks and troughs. How these are negotiated with work demands is where the skill lies.

Emotional Intelligence – Work Life Balance

What is work/life balance?

People who believe they have equilibrium in their work/life balance are essentially saying they are not suffering undue stress. A work/life balance is a dynamic equilibrium, as no one’s private life ever follows a monotonous pattern without peaks and troughs. How these are negotiated with work demands is where the skill lies.

Enlightened employers offer employees choices designed to get what they need as an organisation but within flexible working arrangements to enrich the lifestyle of the employee. This tends to lead to staff remaining longer and being productive provided there is reasonable supervision and the right employee engagement.

In this article, we will look at the definition and nature of stress, the stress cycle, and stress-related illness. Look out for 2 more articles on this subject:

Stress factors and coping techniques for managing stress

Stress management strategies using EI (coming 2nd of December)

Recognising the interdependence between stress and emotions approaches are in essence enhancing an individual’s EQ.

 

work life balance and EI

How does EI restore a work life balance?

Drawing on the emerging evidence from neuroscience, tackling stress issues means treating stress and emotion as if they were one. To treat them as separate fields is absurd. By recognising the interdependence between stress and emotions approaches are in essence enhancing an individual’s EQ.

How well do you believe you balance your time between work and play, between family and employer? As often happens, if there are feelings that the balance is not right, some typical reasons may be:

  • you enjoy work
  • you fear jeopardising your career
  • you perceive that your boss expects it
  • you endure a workaholic organisational culture
  • you think that you have to prove you can cope

 

work life balance and EI

The nature of stress

The word stress is derived from the Latin word stringere, which means ‘to draw tight’. According to Dr Lawrence E. Hinkle, Jr, Cornell University Medical College, New York (a medical doctor who has researched work and stress-related sudden deaths), ‘in the seventeenth century the word was used to describe hardship or affliction’. In the long term people react badly with either too little or too much stress. Without some sense of challenge (known as eustress, or ‘good’ stress, sensed as exhilaration and excitement) we would not get out of bed.

In everyday situations, the stressful experience is pleasurable because one survives the threat. Stress is an aspect of living that can be beneficial when it motivates, inspires or encourages change. Distress is when individuals perceive that they do not have the resources to cope with a perceived situation from the past, present or future.

One definition of stress is:

‘A state that we experience when there is a mismatch between perceived demands and perceived ability to cope with the demands. It is the balance between how we view demands and how we think we can cope with those demands. This determines whether we feel no stress, distressed or what is known as eustressed.’

Professor T. Looker

 

work life balance and EI

The stress cycle

The fight or flight response has been well researched and monitored. It develops in the following cycle:

  1. The forebrain receives danger signals from eyes, ears, etc.
  2. The hypothalamus, in the brain, activates the pituitary gland to release hormones.
  3. Senses are activated, e.g. the pupils of the eyes dilate. Breathing rate increases and gets deeper.
  4. Heart rate and blood pressure increase.
  5. The liver releases sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids into the blood stream.
  6. Digestion ceases and bladder and bowel openings contract.
  7. The adrenal glands release hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, which increase sweating and blood clotting ability.

The most common symptom is that people don’t feel well and medical practitioners can find no clinical reason.

work life balance and EI

Stress-related illness

Being constantly stressed causes illness because the metabolic change is continuous, preventing relaxation or proper sleep for the body and mind to repair itself. Some long-term effects can be: hair loss, headaches, migraines, strokes, impaired immune responses, nervousness, bad sleeping, neck and shoulder aches, lower back and leg aches, asthma, skin conditions, high blood pressure, bad circulation, heart diseases, some cancers, indigestion, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, impotency, menstrual disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. The negative effects of stress are also evident in the form of bad decision-making, negative internal politics, reduced creativity and apathy.

The coping mechanisms (alcohol, drugs, food, sex, dangerous sports, etc.) used to maintain a fast-paced lifestyle fuel illness eventually. The apparent ability to cope can lead to more upon more layers of stress-inducing situations being endured. This is often the most significant factor in illnesses that end careers. If optimum performance is continually maintained or surpassed (chronic stress), then performance deteriorates rapidly and people eventually become ill or die. Chronic stress is a cumulative phenomenon that can develop over a lifetime or over a few weeks. A vicious circle or rather spiral is entered into with the stress response to fear driving an individual to produce more effort for less performance, with more time spent working and less in relaxation.

We hope you found this article useful, please share it if you know someone who may benefit from reading it, or browse the Management and Leadership courses we offer here. All our courses are fully accredited by the CMI.

Source: Instant Manager Emotional Intelligence Series by CMI

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Browse our courses

High impact, virtual micro-learning for maximum output. All programmes are £100 and can be toped up to a full CMI Level 5 Qualification.

For all levels of managers, fully accredited qualifications to supercharge careers and earning power.

Aimed at leaders managing projects, although the qualification is also open to learners wishing to build on their general management skills.

For all types of consultants, either wishing to enter the field or already working and looking to develop into strategic roles.

For all types of leaders looking to develop their leadership and communications skills, and nurture and build effective and functional teams.