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Episode 324: Navigating Work-Life Balance

December 18, 2023



Navigating Work-Life Balance
with Special Guest Lawrencia Jenkins LPC, PLMFT, AAMFT-SC

In this episode of Centric FCU’s Live Better Podcast, join host Emma Banes and guest speaker Lawrencia from Finding Solace Counseling as they explore the practicalities of achieving work-life balance. Gain insights on setting boundaries, effective communication, and identifying signs of burnout. Covering topics such as time management, self-care, and navigating technology’s impact, the episode serves as a valuable guide, offering strategies to find equilibrium in your professional and personal lives. Subscribe, share, and review to support the Live Better Podcast. Thank you for tuning in!


Emma Banes: (00:02)Welcome to another episode of the Live Better Podcast, brought to you by Centric Federal Credit Union. I’m your host and Centric’s Social Media coordinator, Emma Banes. And today we’re shifting our focus to a topic that resonates with many of us in today’s fast-paced world: Work-life balance. In an era where the lines between work and personal life can blur, finding equilibrium is more important than ever. Join us as we navigate the intricate dance of balancing professional pursuits with personal well-being. Our goal is to provide you with insights, stories, and practical strategies to help you not only survive, but thrive in the quest for a harmonious work-life balance. Whether you’re a regular listener or tuning in for the first time, get ready to explore the challenges, triumphs, and expert advice surrounding work-life balance. Let’s dive into this essential conversation and discover how you can enhance your overall well-being. So I wanna welcome all of our listeners to another episode of the Live Better Podcast. And today we are joined by Lawrencia Jenkins, who is a clinician at Finding Solace Counseling to talk about the different ways to navigate work-life balance. So before we get started, do you mind just sharing a little bit about yourself and what you do at Finding Solace?Lawrencia Jenkins: (01:16)So of course, so I work with, I’m a counselor, but I work with individuals, couples, children, pretty much the entire family on a variety of issues, whether it is anxiety, depression, family issues, I’m pretty much whatever you come in, I’m like, Hey, let’s tackle it. Let’s hear your story. Let’s figure it out. So I work with everyone.Emma Banes: (01:36)That’s awesome. That’s so needed too.Lawrencia Jenkins: (01:38)Yes. Especially with the holidays. Oh yeah. And everybody’s fluctuating.Emma Banes: (01:42)Yeah. It can be a really hard time for some people. Um, so let’s just jump right into work-life balance. So can you share what your definition of work-life balance is, and why do you think that it’s so important in the professional landscape?Lawrencia Jenkins: (01:56)Yeah. So I think for me, the first thing that comes to mind, right, is like, defining balance is different for everyone, right? Like, when I hear balance, it’s like, let’s try to find a middle point. But for some people that’s not possible, right? Like, it’s 80, 80, 20, 60, 40 something. So work life balance for me is finding, prioritizing, first of all, and making sure that you’re not overextending yourself here or there and burning out. So finding like that perfect harmony to say, I’ve done what I could today at work, let me take that hat off and I’m still present for family, friends, social life, whatever it might be.Emma Banes: (02:30)Right? And it can be kinda hard too, because I mean, you have to kind of compartmentalize things. Like, okay, my brain is in this space at work, and then you get in your car to leave and you kind of have to turn it off.Lawrencia Jenkins: (02:41)It’s still, yeah.Emma Banes: (02:42)And it’s hard for some people to, you know, kind of go back and forth and jump with that.Lawrencia Jenkins: (02:45)Yes, for sure. Yeah.Emma Banes: (02:48)So how has the concept of work life balance evolved over the years and what trends are you kind of seeing in, in the modern day workplace?Lawrencia Jenkins: (02:55)Hmm. I think for sure I’m hearing more about it. I know for me growing up, I wouldn’t say that I was introduced to the ideal of work-life balance. It was like, once you get in there, hit the ground running right? And there’s no room for rest, you just have to go. Mm-Hmm. . And so I think over the years, like more doors and ideals have opened of like, okay, maybe we need to find balance, right? Maybe we need rest, relaxation, a time to take a break and it be okay. And so I’ve been seeing more opportunities for work life balance, right? Whether it’s like a work retreat or more employees that are open and able to speak to a supervisor and say, Hey, I need some time, more people feeling like it’s okay to actually step out and say I need something.Emma Banes: (03:37)Right? And it seems like God, I mean the last several years, it has really become a topic of discussion. And I feel like, you know, when our parents were our age, it wasn’t really like that. You know, that wasn’t something that, like, you just went to work and you worked having, and it was, yeah. And there was no option really for a lot of balance. So I think it’s good that we’re kind of coming to a place where we can say, okay, I need a minute. Yeah. Or I need a day. I need a mental health day. Like I need, yes. I need more balance. Exactly. And, and be free to, you know, be able to say it. Yeah. Um, so can you recount a personal experience where you may be found it kind of challenging to balance your work and your personal life?Lawrencia Jenkins: (04:19)Yes. I always laugh because I always call myself the self-care guru, but before that I was very much so like, I have to get it done, right? Like, I’d be the person that’s like teaching, supervising, working. Yeah, I’ll show up here, I’ll do the, I’ll do this, I’ll do that. And so my personal experience was pretty much a little bit of all of that, of like maybe Covid or so like I was doing so much and I had to give myself permission to stop and breathe and say it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say, Hey, I need a break. And so I think it sounds weird, but my personal experience comes from a span of my whole life. Where I’ve always been that kid that was like, we gotta stay on it. Right? We gotta get it done.Emma Banes: (05:01)Go, go, go. Yeah. For sure. Um, so a lot of people I feel like really struggle with being able to set boundaries at work. Yeah. I mean, is that something that you’ve kind of seen in the adult world of work?Lawrencia Jenkins: (05:14)Oh, for sure. ’cause I think it goes back to asking permission, right? You know, what do I say? How do I say it without stepping on any toes?. And so I think with setting boundaries, it’s really all about filling out your workplace, right? Like, do I have a relationship with my supervisor where I can say, Hey, like I need a mental health day. Or Hey, I know you said you need 10 of these, but today I can only do seven. Right. I think it’s really just knowing what you can do. And feeling comfortable with how to execute it.Emma Banes: (05:43)Exactly. And I think another aspect of it too is like, it when you need that time or you need Yes. A little more balance. Like, how will people look at me when I Yes. When I ask for that. Like, are they gonna look at me like I’m weak? Exactly. Or like, exactly. I’m lazy. Exactly. You know, like different perceptions can be a real thing and a real problem for people who wanna ask and, and just don’t have like, the courage to do that.Lawrencia Jenkins: (06:06)Yes.Emma Banes: (06:07)Um, so that kind of leads us to the next question. What role do employers play in fostering a work environment that supports the work life balance? Like, do you think there are policies that that could make a significant impact?Lawrencia Jenkins: (06:22)Yeah. I think one thing that I like to think about is, you know, when you go into a company and they give you core values? I think it’s something that could be implemented within that right. Of like unconditional positive regard. I know it’s something for where I’m at. Of like, you know, everyone’s going through something, everyone has a story, and yet you still show up every day to work. So I have this regard for you of how are you today? You know, what’s going on? What do you need? So I think policy-wise, whether it’s a check-in, or even debriefing with some people who work traumatic jobs, right. Of what can we do for you after this? Is this a moment where biweekly once a month, every couple months we check in and say, Hey, what’s needed?Emma Banes: (07:05)Or how are you? A non work related conversation?Lawrencia Jenkins: (07:08)How are you doing? Yeah.Emma Banes: (07:09)Yeah. I like that. Like, just the person like, not how are you at work today, but like, how are you, how are the person today? Yes. Are you okay?Lawrencia Jenkins: (07:16)And like you said, I think you mentioned earlier feeling, knowing that it’s okay to ask and answer. ’cause I think we put on that work face of like, I’m here to work and that’s it. But just a simple, how are you? Right. What do you need from us?Emma Banes: (07:29)Yeah. I mean, you never know how that can really justLawrencia Jenkins: (07:32)Open the door forEmma Banes: (07:33)Yeah. It, it can really, um, so how can employees communicate their work-life balance needs to their employers without fearing negative repercussions? So without the, I’m gonna, I might, may or may not be retaliated against for this if I ask for this or if I express this need. I mean, how do you go about that? How do you navigate that? Yeah.Lawrencia Jenkins: (07:55)I think the first thing that comes to mind for me is tone and approach.Emma Banes: (07:59)Yeah.Lawrencia Jenkins: (08:00)Like that, how do I approach you and what do I say? Like, do I march in, like I can’t take it anymore, I’m done. Or hey, like, this week has been really hard. Like, what can we do maybe today or next week so that I can reset? Right. I think also knowing your policies, like I’ve heard of people taking jobs and not knowing that they might have some paid time off, or they might have a little bitty clause that says, right. If you need it, you can be excused. So I think also knowing your work policy. And then within that, that’s almost like plan B. Right? Right. If I go in and say I’m struggling, and they’re like, no, you, you still have to come in. Right. Well, like I’ve read up about this. How can I implement this? What can we do?Emma Banes: (08:40)Yeah. I know what’s available to you. Exactly.Lawrencia Jenkins: (08:42)Yeah.Emma Banes: (08:43)I think you’re right. I think a lot of people don’t, and I like what you said about tone too. So I think that plays a big role in like the energy in the room when you approach a situation like that. Like it all can kind of go back to the way that you say things. Exactly. And I think, you know, the calmer that you are and the more kind that you are.Lawrencia Jenkins: (09:01)That’s well received. Yeah. YourEmma Banes: (09:02)Message will be received better. Definitely. Uh, so in your opinion, what are the key components of a successful time managemet strategy? Especially for people who have a, like a really demanding professional life.Lawrencia Jenkins: (09:16)So for me, I’d say awareness, expectations and going back to boundary setting. So if you have an eight hour workday for an example, time management is I’m aware that I have eight hours. What can I expect from myself in that workplace for those eight hours? And then just expectations of do I need to set a boundary of in order to get this completed. Maybe I can step out and talk to coworkers as often, or maybe I need to do X, Y, and Z. So I think just awareness of what you have available to you. And then even after work, if you’re thinking of work life balance after these eight hours, I set a boundary Right. Of I’m done. I take my hat off. That’s right. And the expectation is maybe I have four hours to hang with friends, to visit family members. To just stay home and be with family. So I think it’s knowing what you have and executing it properly. Right.Emma Banes: (10:07)Yeah. And just kind of staying on top of things too, because I know this doesn’t necessarily work for every job type. Yeah. But for a lot of people, this is what I’ve kind of started to do. Like at the very beginning of the week, I’ll make a list of like, this, this has to be done this week. Like it cannot wait. And so, you know, kind of manage those tasks throughout week and know, okay, well I haven’t gotten this done yet. So like, this has to wait ’cause this has to come first. Yes. You know, and, and leave little gaps. ’cause for the things that’ll always come up that you don’t expect or that you don’t know about. No,Lawrencia Jenkins: (10:37)That’s a good point. I’m a planner as well, and so I’m like the queen of planning with like dry erase boards and planners and everything. And like, some people are like, wait, so you really planned a nap? Yes, I did.Emma Banes: (10:50)You gotta make time for it.Lawrencia Jenkins: (10:51)Yes. Like I plugged it in, in the middle of the day of like, Netflix, uhhuh, eat a snack. So things like that where you just have to strategically plan out, this is what I can do. And if I have to move it around, here’s where it can go. Exactly.Emma Banes: (11:04)Yeah. I like that a lot. Um, so you kinda mentioned self-care earlier. So we hear a lot about self-care lately. What self-care practices do you recommend for people who are kind of looking to enhance their wellbeing?Lawrencia Jenkins: (11:16)Yeah. I say anything that brings those serotonin levels up, like the feel goods. So whether it’s yoga, whether it’s, Hey, I just wanna sit outside and read a book, grab a coffee. Like anything that makes you feel good. And I think it goes back into self-care where I’ve learned over the years that self-care is deeper than like, Hey, just go take a spa day. Right. Just go take a vacation. Because once I come back, I’m right back in the same like era of it all where I’m just trying to swim through it. And so I think really examining self-care of what do I need is self-care. Really just unplugging. I’m not online, I’m not, I’m, I’m not accessible to anyone. If anyone calls my emails are on vacation mode, do not disturb. Something of that nature. So really diving into what does my body need? And then after that, now that I’ve given myself permission to take a break, do I insert yoga? Do I insert a walk in the park? Like anything that brings that person just peace and relaxation.Emma Banes: (12:16)Yeah. I like that a lot. And I mean, like you said about scheduling and out. I mean, you have to make time for it or it won’t happen at all. Yeah. I mean, you can always find ways to stay busy and you know, I think when you, when you mentioned serotonin levels, I thought, you know, there are things like a vacation that temporarily Yes. Yes. Make you happier and put you in a good spot, but you go right back and you know, they can drop right down again. And so I think it’s important to be consistent. Obviously you can’t take a vacation every week. Yeah. Yeah. But you know, with the other things that you can do every week, I think you need to do ’em consistently. Exactly. Overall to, you know, maintain those serotonin levels like you were talking about, I think, you know, that’s super important. Um, we’ve talked about this before about technology and being able to unplug. Yes. Um, so it’s got a lot of positive and negative impacts on work-life balance. So how can people leverage technology to enhance their productivity without sacrificing the personal time?Lawrencia Jenkins: (13:16)Yeah. I think it could go back to planning, right? Of like, if it’s social media or technology time to just like wind down. I’m watching TikTok, the pastime, you could set yourself a time limit. I think also with technology, make it work for you. So I might as well endorse Apple at this point ’cause I have every Apple product, but I make it work for me where Right. Whether it’s the watch, it’s the iPad, it’s the whatever you might have, make it work for you where you can plan maybe everything synced together. Maybe everything is letting you know, Hey, take a break, right? We’re gonna shut down this app at this time, or we’re gonna give you 30 minutes to do X, Y, and Z. So I think really make it efficient of how to make your technology work for you.Emma Banes: (13:58)And if you dare, you can set a limit for an app. App on your phone. So it won’t let you go over and you’re like, unless you go turn that one off, which you can do. But yeah. I mean, just to kind of discipline yourself, you know, I think there’s a lot of ways that technology can make a lot of our jobs easier. I mean, probably pretty much every industry can be made a little easier with technology. Yes. Yes. Different websites and different software and apps and all of that. And it can be a source, you know, of relaxed time too, where oh, you’re just scrolling. But I think where you get in trouble is, you know, when you’re four hours deep in the scroll.Lawrencia Jenkins: (14:36)Yeah it’s like six hours later.Emma Banes: (14:38)Now it’s going in the morning. Yeah. And now you’re already tired tomorrow.Lawrencia Jenkins: (14:41)Exactly. Yeah.Emma Banes: (14:43)Um, so are there any signs or indicators when people are burning out? I know that’s a word that a lot of people use, like your burnout, teacher burnout, whatever kind of burnout. Yeah. That’s, that’s one I hear a lot. But what are some ways to prevent burnout before it takes over?Lawrencia Jenkins: (14:59)Yeah. I think going to, just noticing the signs of if I’m easily irritated, if I wake up and I’m still tired, if depression, anxiety, any type of triggers that’s not normally your norm, right? If I wake up and I pull into work’s parking lot and I’m automatically shaking, I’m automatically, I don’t wanna go in what’s going on. Are you burnt out and you, you’re at 0%, but I’m here type of thing. Right. And so I think knowing what burnout looks for you or what it looks like for you, right. Because I know for some people burnout is there, but it doesn’t kick in until maybe three years later. And it’s like everything, it feels like it’s crashing. Right. But it’s already been there. So I think noticing when your body is tired. And what can you do to prevent it? I think it’s knowing your signs and triggers. Right? If the first moment that I notice I’m burnt out, I go ahead and look at my schedule and say, well, maybe not today. I can’t just uproot and leave. But in the next seven days, what does my schedule look like where maybe I can leave three hours early? Or where can I take a break? A break or plug in things to actually give myself a chance to just breathe and reset.Emma Banes: (16:04)Right. Yeah. And I think it’s different for everybody. I mean, you really have to be self-aware Oh yeah. To know, because you can get so busy with work where, you know, 8, 9, 10 weeks go by and you don’t even realize can kind of run it on zero. You know, I think it’s really important to pay close attention to yourself. And like you said, if if you have something going on that’s not normal for you, then that needs to be addressed. And I think that too brings up another point, like having people in your life who care for you Yeah. And they look out for you. ’cause they might notice things before you do. Exactly. And be able to point out like, you know, you don’t usually have this much anxiety about this. Yeah.Lawrencia Jenkins: (16:40)You’re not yourself.Emma Banes: (16:41)And then you might, you know, just, well, you’re right. I, I didn’t even think of that. You know, I mean that’s happened with me and my husband several times as I say that. ’cause um, oh yeah. It’s important to, you know, have people in your life that can see it too.Lawrencia Jenkins: (16:51)Oh, for sure. I’m the same if I’m short with everyone. Yeah. Or like snappy. They’re like, did you have coffee? If so, what’s going on? Yeah. Because it’s either I didn’t have my coffee this morning or I’m burnt out.Emma Banes: (17:01)Yeah. I heard my husband be like, Mike be like, you know, what’s wrong with you today? I’m like, I don’t know. Hang on, let me think about it. Something’s off. I don’t know what it is. What’s going on? Just gimme a minute. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so how can employees advocate for their mental health in the workplace? We’ve kind of touched on that a little bit. But you know, the tone and the way that you approach things, but what are maybe some other ways that they can advocate for that?Lawrencia Jenkins: (17:25)Yeah, I think going back to tone and approach, but really having a voice to feel comfortable to speak up. And you never know. Like it could it be, I’m not comfortable sharing my mental health, but I’m comfortable saying, Hey, I’m having anxiety, feelings of anxiety, feelings of depression. Where can we implement some workplace things? I know some places have workshops now or retreats, whether it could be two hours at the beginning of the day. We’ll have someone come in and talk about anxiety, managing work life balance. Right. Managing depression. So I think not being afraid to utilize your voice. Because I always tell people they won’t know unless you say something That’s right. And then you can execute accordingly of like, well I spoke on it now let’s see how it falls into play as far as just company-wise.Emma Banes: (18:13)Right. And here’s the thing, say you work for a company that’s not super supportive in that area and you speak up 10 other people might do it once they see, you know, I mean, and then, you know.Lawrencia Jenkins: (18:25)You create that foundation where it’s like, we have to do something.Emma Banes: (18:28)Yeah. And, and then, you know, executives are able to see, okay, well this is not, this is everybody, you know, it’s time to address this. You know, and, and nobody would’ve said anything had the one person. Exactly.Lawrencia Jenkins: (18:39)Yeah.Emma Banes: (18:40)Um, so what are your thoughts on, on remote work in achieving work life balance? I mean, do you think that that has benefits to have a more flexible work arrangement for, you know, the professions that, that are able to do that?Lawrencia Jenkins: (18:54)Yeah. I think it’s, for me a little 50-50 only I’ve experienced both. Right. With Covid, I think we all kind of went into a slight remote work. And so the benefits are, it’s accessible. Right. Some people have made the joke of, I can throw on like my casserole in the back and like run back to the computer. It’s accessible where you can still be at home, you can get dinner done. Some people are working on household things in between. But I think the other side of it’s when does it feel complacent of I wake up and I’m already at work. When I get off I’m home, but it’s still my work setting. Right. So I think some people struggle with separating now that my home has become work, where do I find work life balance? Right. Where do I find a wind downtime? Because everywhere at home reminds me of work.Emma Banes: (19:40)Exactly. I, that was my thought. Exactly. I think it’s different for everybody. And I feel like some people could definitely view it that way. Like, well this is my work. Yeah. And I live here, so I kind of live at work. Right. And you know, it can be, you know, disheartening. Remote work, you know, not so beneficial. But then I think on the other side of that, there are also people who are really productive when they get to be home and in, in their pajamas. You know, comfortable on the couch if you can work at home, you know, which unfortunately everyone cannot. But, um, I definitely think there’s both. And think it depends on the person. I think some people thrive in an office setting and then, you know, I think some people maybe know, but yeah. Maybe don’t.Lawrencia Jenkins: (20:20)But yeah, like you said, it doesn’t really, it doesn’t work for everyone. Right. I get it’s 50 50Emma Banes: (20:24)Goes back to knowing yourself.Lawrencia Jenkins: (20:26)Exactly. Knowing yourself and knowing how to make it work for you. ’cause you could say, hey, like the living room is my office. Or I have an office at home and I shut that off. Once I’m off work, I make home. Home.Emma Banes: (20:37)Exactly. Yeah. Uh, are there any common misconceptions about work-life balance that you would like to clarify or debunk for our listeners?Lawrencia Jenkins: (20:46)Yes. I think going back to the beginning of our conversation when we kind of talked about our parents and what that looked like for me, I always like to start with just de normalizing the inability to take a break. Because you mentioned of if I take a break, if I speak on it, will they think I’m weak? You know, will they think I’m not capable? I’m insufficient, I’m inadequate to do what I need to do. And so for me, I always like to de-normalized maybe what that meant in the past. Right. And saying, it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to take a step back and say, if you want the best me that I can be, whether it’s at work or at home, I have to take a step back and give to myself. And so I always like to let people know it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to take a break. It’s just how you execute it, step back from it and then reprioritize around it.Emma Banes: (21:34)Yeah. It goes back to boundaries. It’s just, it’s so important. And the more that you know, you cross your own boundaries. Yeah. You know, the, the more down it can put you. Exactly. Just look up one day and not realize that you’ve really been miserable for the last year and how did you get there? You know? Yeah. I think that’s really important. Um, before we wrap up, is there anything you wanted to add? Anything that maybe we didn’t touch on? Yeah,Lawrencia Jenkins: (21:59)I think going back to just knowing yourself, right? So going back to just de normalizing and pausing and taking a break. I think really encouraging people to know yourself. And it could take a journey of experiencing and mapping out who am I, what can I tolerate? What do I want, what does work? What does work life balance for me? What does that look like? How do I feel? How do I navigate through things? And what are my, not weaknesses, but what could I do more? Could I speak up more? Could I find a voice, a tone to approach my needs and wants? So I think really being more intentional with how you take care of you. Right. And what that looks like.Emma Banes: (22:36)And it’s definitely just gonna be different for everybody. And, you know, it might take you a while to figure out what works best for you. Yes. But you know, you got to figure it out. In my opinion. Just be, I mean, if you want to be as happy as you possibly can, I think that’s really important.Lawrencia Jenkins: (22:50)Oh, for sure. For sure.Emma Banes: (22:52)

Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. You’re welcome. That wraps up another insightful episode of the Live Better Podcast. We trust that today’s exploration of work-life balance, has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips to navigate the delicate balance between professional and personal spheres. Remember, your wellbeing is a priority, and centric is here to support you on your journey. If you found this episode helpful, we encourage you to express your support. Hit the subscribe button, share this episode with those who might benefit, and take a moment to share your thoughts with a review. Your feedback guides us in creating content that directly addresses your financial wellbeing. Let’s keep the conversation going on social media. Connect with us on Facebook @CentricFCU and on other platforms @mycentric, stay informed about the latest insights and resources tailored to help you achieve a harmonious work-life balance. As we wrap up today’s episode, always remember Centric is your dedicated companion on your financial journey. Thank you for being a part of the Live Better podcast community. Until next time, take care and prioritize your wellbeing. 

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