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Tips for a better work-life balance in Psychology

Dave is doing the work of 3 people. More and more responsibilities have been added to his portfolio yet, despite this significant increase in workload, he’s expected to continue performing at his usual high level – or even step it up a notch. 

After many months of carrying that stress, of losing sleep and battling anxiety, he booked an appointment with a Psychologist. In their sessions together, Carla has helped Dave to reduce his stress levels, develop assertiveness skills, negotiate with his boss and book time off work to replenish his energy. 

Carla’s delighted with Dave’s progress. And, to be honest, she’s a little envious. 

Little does Dave know that Carla spends her nights, weekends and even her holidays buried by her own unmanageable workload. That for every hour of therapy she provides, there’s a corresponding hour (at least!) of admin, report writing or bureaucracy-wrangling to trudge through. Much as she loves her work, she now feels like it sucks up too much of her life. It wasn’t supposed to be like this – and it can’t go on for much longer. 

What is work-life balance? 

Work-life balance basically means finding the sweet spot where you feel content and fulfilled at work and home. Exactly what that might look like varies immensely depending on your personality, interests and stage of life (it’s certainly trickier when you have caring responsibilities at home). 

When you have a good work-life balance, you’re able to: 

  • Meet work deadlines while still enjoying time with family and friends
  • Sleep well
  • Eat well – because you have time to shop, cook and enjoy a meal
  • Turn off from work when you get home. 

Work-life balance does not mean firmly dividing your time 50:50 between the office and the family. There will be seasons where you’re needed more at home and other seasons where you’re needed more at work. Problems arise, though, when a busy season runs on and on and on. 

When you’ve lost work-life balance, you might find that you’re: 

  • Worrying about work at home
  • Not sleeping well
  • Skipping meals or rushing through them
  • Feeling like you’re spread too thin. 

Why is work-life balance important? 

Work-life balance should be important to both employers and employees. It helps to:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce staff turnover
  • Improve morale and job satisfaction
  • Improve health and well-being. 

Why do Psychologists struggle to find their own work-life balance? 

As a Psychologist, you already know why work-life balance matters. The bigger question is why it’s so hard to achieve it. 

There’s a tragic irony about spending your days counselling clients to avoid burnout then spending your nights working. “We don’t practice what we preach,” says one Psychologist while another cautions that “We study burnout and think it [only] applies to the people we’re trying to help.”

Making changes is not easy, especially if your workplace culture normalises and expects long working hours. Where do you begin?

How can you create a better work-life balance?

If you’re dealing with an overwhelming workload or other causes of workplace stress, you’re probably used to racing from one thing to another. You’re almost running on empty. And you need to stop and check your work-life balance. 

  1. Pause: Take some time (book it into your diary if you have to) to reflect on your situation. Ask yourself:
    • What’s important to me? What do I value? 
    • What have the last few weeks and months been like? Why?
    • Does my typical week reflect my values? What am I missing out on?
  2. Reflect: How do you feel about your situation? Angry? Resentful? Exhausted? Trapped?
  3. Reprioritise: What is important to you? How do you want to live your life? And what needs to change to enable that?
  4. Find alternatives: Maybe think about your job and consider which parts energise you and which sap your energy. Could you talk to your boss about that? Are there any passion projects you’ve taken on which could wait a while?
  5. Make some changes: It may not feel like it, but you do have options. You could:
    • Book a day’s leave every month
    • Improve your time management skills
    • Hire a virtual assistant to help with the admin
    • Ensure Saturdays are family time with no work
    • Lighten the load at home by hiring a cleaner so you can use your free time for family fun rather than chores. 

Changes don’t always have to be huge to be effective. There are genuinely busy seasons of life where we’re stretched thin both at work and at home. Self-care in these situations needs to come in bite-sized chunks that can be easily integrated into the day, such as a 10-minute walk at lunchtime, a few deep breathing exercises between appointments or a quick neck massage. 

Improve your work-life balance at The Talk Shop 

Sometimes, though, you do need a big change. Some workplaces have an unhealthy culture that’s quite prepared to bleed you dry as long as you keep making money for them. 

Leave. You’re worth more. 

With the current mental health crisis, Psychologists are in high demand. That means you don’t have to stay in a job that drains you. 

If you’re interested in a stimulating Psychology career that gives you plenty of flexibility to live your life, come to work at The Talk Shop. 

We’re a different kind of Psychology practice. We believe in nurturing the mental and emotional wellbeing of our Clinicians and showing you the same care that you show your clients.

  • We offer flexibility – set your own hours
  • Industry-leading 70/30 fee split paid weekly
  • Autonomy over your schedule and caseload
  • Huge variety of clients to match your skills & interest
  • We manage the admin so you don’t have to
  • Healthy and supportive team culture.

Visit our careers page to learn more. And please get in touch if you’d like to work for a practice that truly values you. 


This information is intended for healthcare professionals.