Technology -- Blessing or Curse?

How many of us live by our smart phones? Who of us would not know where to be every hour of the day without our electronic reminders and alarms? I know I rely on my iPhone for more than just making phone calls and texting my teenagers to make sure plans made in the morning are still relevant in the afternoon. If I am unfamiliar with how to get somewhere, my map app gives me turn by turn directions so that I don’t waste precious time. All of the information available, day or night, comes with a potential cost that far exceeds monthly data plan rates.

Today, expectations for many are that we are accessible 24/7. Because we have our work email synced to our smart devices, we can literally start “working” as soon as we awake each morning and can answer our last email right before going to bed at night. Many of us find it hard to fall asleep thinking about the last email we received and the impact it will have on the day ahead. The result can be as severe as insomnia or such light sleep that the body doesn’t properly recharge. Over time, the problems can intensify.

I’m sure there are several of us that remember the days before smart phones or even laptops that were carried home each night. When we left the office back in those days, we went home to focus on our families or other outside interests. If we got a phone call related to work, most of the time it was a serious matter that couldn’t wait until the next morning. These days, we are answering emails while preparing dinner, bathing children or driving to sports events. Things don’t have to be urgent or even timely to get a response after business hours…it’s just too easy to take care of it right then and there whether it interrupts precious family time or not. My husband is literally on the phone until midnight most nights with calls from clients just wondering about the status of their case or employees who want advice on purchasing a car. The days of true vacations, down time for sleep, relaxation and focusing on family are  gone, I am afraid.

Work-life balance is an absolute necessity. It is as essential to our physical and mental health as food, water and air. I believe we are just beginning to see the ramifications of the 24/7 lifestyle on our workforce. Stress-related health problems are reaching epidemic proportions. Anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke are just a few of the health issues we are seeing in our younger employees. What can we do to change course?

There is a saying that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. The same is true in the case of work-life balance. When you leave the office each day, it should be OK to “shut down” until the following day; focus on family or community; or simply get the rest that your body needs to perform optimally. The University of Kentucky is committed to helping employees achieve real work-life balance…so much so that they have an entire organization dedicated to it. Check out all of the valuable insights at: http://www.uky.edu/hr/work-life

If you feel that it is not possible to achieve work-life balance because of your job responsibilities, please talk to your manager. It should be the goal of all of us to support one another and ensure that we can all enjoy a true balance between our work responsibilities and those that await us when we leave the office.

This article has 5 simple ideas that we can should all keep in mind when trying to achieve a good balance at home and at work. http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/protect-health-13/balance-life

If you feel like your circumstances require more than just the basic assistance, reach out to the UK Work-Life Office. They are here to help us be the best employees we can be. They can provide you with the resources you need, for your specific situation, so that you are able to be as healthy as possible in this 24/7 world.

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