Career Advice

Work-Life Balance Tips: How to Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy

It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, and the theme this year is mental health in the workplace. To show our support, we’re sharing some of our best work-life balance tips.

One in six of us experiences a mental health problem in any given week, and increased working hours and work-related stress are often contributing factors.

A key way to protect against this detrimental effect is to make sure you have a healthy balance between work and your personal life. The following work-life balance tips should help you achieve that.

Article by PurpleCV (PurpleCV)

Work smarter, not longer

Long working hours can be a big contributing factor to mental ill-health. The Mental Health Foundation states that when working long hours, 27% of employees feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and 58% feel irritable.

However, research has shown that working longer doesn’t mean we get more done – in fact, there is evidence to suggest that it actually harms our productivity.

Instead of working long hours, try to use your time wisely. Prioritise tasks carefully, and give yourself a set amount of time to do each one. Try to stick to your schedule, even if it means you don’t do every task perfectly. Which leads us onto our next tip…

Don’t be a perfectionist

The impulse to spend extra time making sure you do things perfectly can be strong. If you’re overworked, try to ignore it – tell yourself explicitly that what you’ve done may not be perfect, but it’s good enough.

This applies to your home life as well as your work life. Don’t beat yourself up if the living room is a bit messy, or you haven’t had time to do the ironing. Give yourself a break – it doesn’t matter if those things don’t always get done.

Say no more often

If your boss or colleagues are expecting too much of you, take responsibility and speak up.

If you usually say yes as soon as you’re asked to do something, start taking a bit of time before you give your answer. Tell the person asking that you’ll get back to them, and then think carefully about whether you actually want to do it.

If you want to say no, say it and stick to your guns. Be polite, but don’t apologise or make excuses. If you’re clear and firm about how much you can take on, your employer should respond accordingly.

Draw a line between work and leisure

The time we spend worrying about work when we’re not there is a key contributing factor to work-related stress. Drawing a clear distinction between work time and leisure time can help combat this.

At the end of the day, make a list of any outstanding tasks or things you need to remember, then turn off your computer, close your diary and leave it. Don’t check your emails outside of work hours, no matter how tempting it is.

If you ever do have to bring work home, try to make sure you only work in one specific area of your home, and are able to close the door on it.

When you’re at work, make sure you take proper breaks. Don’t skip lunch – take at least half an hour, and get out of your workplace if you can.

Make time for the things you enjoy

Exercise, hobbies and spending time with friends and family are all great ways to reduce stress and protect against mental health problems.

Make sure you schedule in time to do something you enjoy every day. It could be as simple as giving yourself 20 minutes to read before you go to bed, or catching up with a friend over the phone – but give these ‘appointments’ as much importance in your schedule as work-related tasks.

Work-life balance tips: a summary

Most of us spend a large proportion of our time at work, and our experience in the workplace is an important factor in our wellbeing.

We hope these work-life balance tips help you reduce stress and stay healthy. For more information on looking after your mental health, check out the Mental Health Foundation’s range of publications or Mind’s advice on staying mentally healthy at work.

Student debt

Uni v apprenticeship: who wins?

Are you risking a life of debt by going to university? Recent reports showed that the average amount owed by a student at graduation is £50,000, with poorer students being stung more with an average owed of £56,000. With an apprenticeship, you can earn while you learn…

With this rise of student debt and the struggles to maintain a university lifestyle, more and more are now choosing to take on an apprenticeship to get their dream job instead.

Apprentices can earn anywhere from £22,644, to well over £50,000 in the equivalent three years whilst also studying for a degree level qualification and getting a foot on the career ladder from day one.

Taking into account a cost of living of just under £18,864 over the three years the average apprentice will have the potential for £4,000 disposal income or savings, with a qualification and three years’ work experience – the exact thing that most students feel prevents about preventing them from getting a job when they leave university!

The average apprentice in the North West is paid £17,488* per year, meaning they’d be likely to earn £52k over three years, while their peers at University rack up a similar amount in debt.

Student spending often outweighs income from loans, meaning those who can’t get help from family or who are unable to work may be without the means to pay for basic things like food or bills. Students often have to find additional funds to pay for their bills and accommodation, meaning they are likely to leave uni with even more debt than just their student loans.

While data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed UK renters spent less than a third of income on rent in 2017, student rents can swallow a gigantic 95 per cent of the monthly loan instalment in addition to the typical £509 in upfront fees and deposit. *

Apprentices tend to live at home Seetec has found and tend to have slightly lower living costs because they are working or studying every day – university hours are still low compared to a 41 hour working week.

Their average spends can be broken down as follows:

Living Costs Uni Student** Apprentice
Rent £4620 £2400
Food £1,488 £1380
Social £816 £900
Travel £624 £720
Bills £588 NA
Clothes £408 £348
Mobile Phone £240 £240
Other £372 £300
Books £312 NA
Total £9480 £6288
Total x 3 years £28,440 £18,864

“Opened doors for me financially”

Holly Martin, 19, is studying for her Level 3 in Digital Marketing whilst working as a Marketing and Events Executive at Lancashire Business View, and she has found that her apprenticeship has allowed her better financial prospects compared to some of her peers at university.

She said: “Me and my boyfriend are both in a position to save quite a lot and are looking to rent a place together, which very few of my other friends can do at my age. The apprenticeship has definitely opened doors for me financially, and I can still afford the occasional shopping spree!”

She continued: “Quite a few of my friends at university are already well into their overdrafts having been studying for less than a year. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people I know who study for years, spend all their money and get into debt just to end up back working in part time roles once they graduate and not progressing in their career. I know now that I’m already in a stable position for my age and I’m learning on the job which I wouldn’t have been able to do at university.”

Apprenticeships on the rise

Employment and skills specialist, Seetec, is working with a number of major businesses across the North West to help raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeship schemes versus university, and the benefits they can have for those concerned about the cost of being a student. This year, there has been an increase in the number of apprenticeship sign ups aged between 19 and 25 looking for an alternative to kick start their career.

Bradley Lawson from Rochdale found that learning on the job didn’t mean his salary had to suffer. Despite only being 23, his apprenticeship allowed him to study his Level 2 Business Admin as well as working full-time on the accounts team at Cresta Car. His salary is good enough for him to start seriously considering purchasing a home with his partner – something some of his graduate friends are still worlds away from.

He said: “For me, studying alongside my role also didn’t affect my salary so it was certainly an appealing option compared to some of my friends in university who have been struggling to get a good wage since they’ve graduated. Although I think university is a great option for people who know what they want to do for a career, it just wasn’t for me. An apprenticeship is great as you can pick it up at whatever age and you can earn while you learn”.

Conor Anderson, from Huyton in Liverpool, chose to learn whilst he earns instead of wracking up but debts at university, he is studying for his Level 3 in Digital Marketing while working full time as a Digital Communications and Tech Assistant.

Even with the studying that goes alongside working a full time job, Conor was surprised at how easy it was to manage, and advises others not to be put off.

“My company have been really understanding, they give me a few hours a week to catch up on any paperwork you need so you don’t feel too overwhelmed with working and studying. I work alongside a few other apprentices too so it’s good to have a few peers who you can talk stuff through with. I am already on course to complete my qualification even earlier than planned which is great for me. It’s been a quick process and since I’m only young I know that the opportunity to progress is only going to push me further into my career. I have peers at university who are studying full time and it feels like they are busier than me trying to work part time to cover their rent and fees, while also studying on full time university courses”

For more information on apprenticeship schemes in your area, visit call 01702 208 270

Related Articles

What is an Apprenticeship

Difference between an Apprenticeship and Traineeship


creating a good CV

6 key do’s and don’ts for your CV

The first important step on your job search is perfecting your CV. Getting this right from the start means you’ll stand yourself in good stead for landing an interview and as a result – a job! However, many professionals do fall at the first hurdle by making a few common CV mistakes. Don’t be like them!

To help you out, CV-Library have put together a guide of the six key do’s and don’ts for CV writing, to ensure that you’re able to write a winning CV that will boost your application.

Do – match it with the job description

To give yourself the best chance of being noticed, you need to scan the job description and include some of the keywords in your CV. This is particularly important nowadays with recruiters increasingly using ATSs to screen candidates – meaning your CV may need to be beat the bots before a recruiter even has a chance to look at it.

This is not to say you should litter your CV with buzzwords and jargon. Instead, choose important keywords from the job description and include these throughout. For example, if you were applying for a role as a sales executive you might use keywords like sales, confident, communication, account management, clients and targets.

Don’t – include irrelevant information

Depending on what stage you’re at in your career, you may have a bigger list of previous employers and qualifications. While this is great, it’s important that you only include the relevant information on your CV. This means only using your most recent and relevant roles and work experience, as well as key qualifications and skills.

Do – keep it clear and well-presented

While it can be tempting to choose a unique layout or design for your CV to try to stand out, you could actually be damaging your chances. Quirky designs can end up being distracting and unclear. So it’s best to stick to a classic format that’s easy to digest.

To do this, use short paragraphs and bullet points where appropriate. You should also clearly label each section of your CV. Choose a clear font, something like Arial or Calibri is best and make sure it’s not too small. Font size 12 is usually the best option to go with.

Don’t – send out a generic CV

The job search can be a long and sometimes stressful process. For this reason, it can be tempting to fire off a generic CV to as many companies as possible. However, you should avoid doing this at all costs. Recruiters will be able to spot this a mile off and it’s likely that your CV will fall to the bottom of the pile.

Instead, make sure you tailor each CV to the specific role and company that you’re applying for. As previously mentioned, go through the job description and choose the best keywords. You should also choose the information (qualifications, experience etc.) that is most relevant to each specific role.

Do – proofread before you submit

Before you submit your CV, make sure you give it a good proofread. Any spelling or grammatical mistakes aren’t going to look very professional. In fact, it may even imply that you’re sloppy or pay little attention to detail. As such, be sure to give it a good proof yourself and even ask someone else to look over it for you. It always helps to have a second opinion!

Don’t – make it too long

Finally, you need to make sure that your CV isn’t too long. It shouldn’t need to be any more than one to two A4 pages. Especially if you’ve carefully selected only the relevant information to include. You can save space by removing your hobbies and interest section and writing ‘references upon request’ at the bottom. This will leave you space for the more important information.

Final thoughts

Writing your CV may seem like a daunting task, but get it right and you could be well on your way to landing your perfect role. Keep these six do’s and don’ts in your mind when writing your application, ensuring each CV is tailored to the specific role and clearly presented.

CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board, advertising a range of roles, from teaching positions, to software development. It also owns an array of other career sites, including Engineering Jobs.