Inevitably, we all go through peaks and valleys in our work. Sometimes we can afford to be fairly hands-off or to leave our work at work when we come home to spend time with our families. But other times that’s simply not the case. Whether it’s because of a big project, a new client, or company troubles, work has a tendency to get overwhelming and can be so overwhelming that it overwhelms all other responsibilities in man’s life.
That’s why it’s important to be intentional about the balance so you can be there for those you love and their important moments, too. I’ve found that this intentionality reverberates into presence, too – even if you’re not physically working, your mind can mentally be elsewhere when the stresses of work tug you there. Overwhelm takes up significant mental real estate, and your family can feel the distance. The balance will look different for everyone, but these are a few tips for entrepreneurial or working fathers and husbands who are looking for balance in seasons of overwhelming.
Communicate with your family members.
Men have a tendency to repress stress and not discuss it with their family members. We tend to believe that this is balance: trying to leave work to overwhelm at the office or for “work time,” and feigning being present at the dinner table or in other family moments. While compartmentalizing is easier for some than others, it’s not always healthy. Remember that you need to show up with all of yourself to all areas of your life, and you can’t do this if you’re denying the stress of work.
You don’t need to share every detail, but just letting your family know that you’re under a lot of stress at work can feel like a weight off your shoulders. For one, they’ll understand if you can spend less time with the family or need more help with your responsibilities. Opening up can also make you less susceptible to snapping or letting stress get the better of you; you’re supposed to talk about your stress and let it air out, so do so.
Ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors.
Depending on what your family responsibilities entail, you may need to ask for help: for the neighbors to let the dog out if you can’t get home till much later in the night, for a family friend to pick up the kids from school, or for your other family members to temporarily take over chores and errands like getting the groceries or doing the laundry. Asking for help can be so hard for men, but if we don’t, we will start to feel the pressure and stress of the overwhelm start to grow. To be the best husbands and fathers we can be, we can’t let this happen. That’s why it’s important to have a community we can lean on and call on in times of need.
Know that you’ll return the favor eventually, or to make yourself feel better, plan a nice dinner to treat your friends, neighbors, and family members for a month out. Everyone can look forward to it, and they’ll know that the dinner is a sign of your appreciation for their help.
Create pockets of relaxation time to spend with family members.
Finally, it’s important for your mental health to have small pockets of time each day for relaxing activities. Jeremy Delk, investor and founder of Delk Enterprises, recommends this. “Invite your family along to your relaxation time so you’re still prioritizing time with them. Whether it’s hitting a yoga class, going for a walk, or even trying a new meditation app together, these twenty minute to one hour ‘relaxation pockets’ can make all the difference in your mental clarity and stamina,” he said. “Remember that your family wants to be there for you and will likely love to join you in these relaxing activities. Usually, during overwhelm, the last thing I want to do is hit the gym, but I feel so much better afterwards. It’s important to find these ways to unwind.”
Continue to be honest with yourself and them about your needs. The overwhelm won’t last forever; these are simply coping mechanisms for the short term so that you can successfully be there for your family and manage work stress.
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