What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “work/life balance”? Many believe it involves balancing the number of hours spent at home versus the number of hours spent at work. As any busy professional knows, this task is both incredibly daunting and often unsuccessful. Those who strive to find a time-related balance may find the process both unsatisfactory and nearly impossible to achieve.
But what if work/life balance meant finding a satisfactory level of psychological wellbeing, engagement, safety and emotional fortitude—both in the workplace and at home? Under this concept, “life balance” may be a more suitable phrase, extending beyond work and home to encompass every aspect of an individual’s life.
Wellbeing for the Workforce
The University of Illinois College of Medicine recently opened the Center for Wellbeing in order to bring this concept of life balance to Peoria. We have suggestions for how to achieve that kind of wellbeing, and it goes way beyond having a time management system.
The Center, housed within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department, opened its doors last fall. For nearly 40 years, the Department has been the forerunner in providing evidence-based mental health treatment, education and prevention to the Greater Peoria area. Now, empirically-based wellbeing and other services can be brought to professionals and professional organizations in a confidential and sensitive manner.
Some major concerns of today’s business leaders include productivity, absenteeism, employee engagement, turnover, and employee and customer satisfaction. The evidence demonstrates that one way to achieve better outcomes in these areas is to improve employee resilience and wellbeing. The newly created Center offers highly-regarded educational programs for the entire professional workforce, including symposiums, workshops, group-based training and skill development, and individual counseling services.
Compassion and Emotional Balance
One such program, CBCT® or Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, introduces skills and abilities that benefit not only the individual, but those around them as well (the people they serve, coworkers, patients, students and clients). These skills help a person achieve greater personal and professional resilience. It’s a common misconception that people are born with a certain degree of compassion. In reality, however, compassion is a trainable skill. We can all learn to offer compassion naturally and spontaneously to others.
Another educational program offered by the Center, Cultivating Emotional Balance, combats the widely-held belief that the workplace is no place for emotions. “Neuroscience research informs us that emotions drive behavior,” notes Dr. Bento Soares, a member of the Center’s Advisory Council. “Probably every workplace could benefit from a culture in which employees understand emotions and know how to regulate them. Emotional regulation enhances interpersonal effectiveness, which in turn, leads to better teamwork and better job satisfaction.”
Debra Disney is director of the Center For Wellbeing at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. To learn more about arranging a presentation for your organization or to schedule an individual counseling appointment, call (309) 495-1683 or email CenterForWellbeing@uic.edu. For more information, visit peoriawellbeing.org. PM