JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Work-life balance is a growing societal problem, and military members are no exception.
In the Let’s Get Social survey conducted by Joint Base San Antonio Military & Family Readiness Centers, work-life balance was identified as the number one area of concern among the 274 military-related members who participated in the survey.
According to Criselda Guerrero-Smith, Personal/Work-Life Program Lead at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC, the key to finding the right work-life balance centers on striving for excellence.
“When we talk about work-life balance, we try to talk to people about aiming for excellence versus perfectionism,” Guerrero-Smith said.
Guerrero-Smith said work-life balance is the concept of individuals balancing their work life and their home life, with the goal of making quality time with their families and engaging in activities that help reduce stress. She said individuals should let go of being perfectionists, and instead strive for excellence.
“For a lot of people, when we talk about work-life balance, they tend to present themselves as perfectionists, whether at home or in a working environment or even both,” Guerrero-Smith said. “As it evolves, they continue this perfectionist approach to life, and it can be overwhelming.”
In contrast, Guerrero-Smith said striving for excellence makes people aware that they will make mistakes along the way and there are more than several ways to accomplish a goal or job.
“Usually when we’re talking about excellence, we really talk to the idea you got the job done,” she said. “You have a few hiccups along the way; it wasn’t exactly the way you wanted it, but you got the end goal and again, it’s allowing an area for individuals to breathe. Being able to have empathy for yourself to say, ‘I’m doing an excellent job, it’s not perfect but it’s a great job and so I know my leadership is good.’”
Guerrero-Smith said it is up to each individual to find an approach to work-life balance which works for them. This includes finding activities that help reduce stress such as exercise, doing relaxing activities with family or friends, finding a hobby you enjoy and other activities that reduce stress and allow you to unplug from work.
For those who are teleworking from home, finding a work-life balance can be challenging since work and home life have become blended, Guerrero-Smith said. But she said it’s important for individuals to set aside time for themselves and their families.
“When I’m at home, I need to make sure that is my quality time, making sure I’m attentive to what’s going on in the home environment,” she said.
Guerrero-Smith said finding the right work-life balance is different for each individual, depending on what they are experiencing at work and their home life.
“When it comes to work-life balance, it is personal,” Guerrero-Smith said. “It’s personal because we get to make the decisions of whether or not we’re going to be reactive to everything that presents itself in front of us, or we’re going to actually pause and look at the situation for what it is and take care of it ourselves.”
In addition, when coming up with a plan for work-life balance, Guerrero-Smith said individuals need to weigh the expectations they have from work and their families.
“Balancing that out is just knowing and being aware that there is a challenge that’s lying ahead, and by taking a proactive approach of pausing and looking at the situation for what it is,” she said. “It will certainly, hopefully, allow for individuals to respond better. If we don’t pause, we jump in with both feet; it can be exhausting. Work-life balance begins with taking control of your choices.”
Guerrero-Smith said obtaining a work-life balance includes limiting or eliminating time-wasting activities; for example, watching too much TV, or being around negative people that prevent you from reaching your goals or don’t help you get ahead.
When it comes to work-life balance, it is up to individuals to find the best ways to balance their time between work and family and/or home life, knowing their limits when doing an activity, knowing how much is too much when participating in an activity and knowing when to ask for help, especially from family, friends or Military Family and Life Counselors and consultants affiliated with JBSA M&FRCs, said Guerrero-Smith.
The JBSA community offers several resilience resources that help promote a healthy work-life balance. JBSA M&FRCs offer several classes which can offer help, tips and suggestions on finding the right work-life balance for servicemembers, military family members and government civilians. Information on the classes can be found on the JBSA M&FRC website at https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Military-Family-Readiness/, by clicking on the calendar of events for M&FRCs.
Also, JBSA members can contact M&FRCs at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2705; JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-3722, or JBSA-Randolph, 210-652-5321, for more information.
(Editor’s note: This article is a second in a series of articles being published to mark Social Wellness Month in July.)