How To Find Work-Life Balance When Living With A Chronic Illness?

Interview with Sarah Berthon about work-life balance

Interview with Sarah Berthon

I had the pleasure to interview Sarah Berthon, founder of Excel against the Odds, to ask her how employees can improve their work-life balance.

I believe work-life balance is a major issue for everyone, business owners and employees, but it can be even more challenging for people living with chronic illnesses.

I personally struggled to disclose my condition and ask for support when I was working at University. I learnt the hard way that it was ok to ask for help. I hope this interview is helpful for anyone who is currently struggling in their place of work.


Key take home messages:


  • Work-life balance is often lost when you use all your energy to do your hours in the workplace and spend the rest of your time recovering. This prevents you from actually doing the things that would improve your health such as cooking a healthy meal or exercising.
  • It’s important to become more conscious of your energy levels and how they vary with your everyday tasks. Monitor which activities give you energy and which ones drain you. Notice what time of day you have more energy and plan your work accordingly.
  • Listen to your body and the signals you’re getting tensed or tired. Pause and release tensions before you crash.
  • If you haven’t done so already, consider disclosing your condition to your manager because an organisation can easily put in place strategies and adjustments to support your needs.
  • We’re all different and have different ways of working. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilty because you’re asking for support. It’s OK TO ASK FOR HELP.

Sarah also works with organisations directly. She delivers workshops to raise awareness and supports the implementation of strategies to create sustainable cultural changes. Here is some  advice for organisations:

  • It’s always best to open the conversation with an employee who has a chronic illness and ask what their needs are rather than making assumptions.
  • Clear and effective communication is key to manage team dynamics – making sure everyone understands that no-one is benefiting from special treatment. The support provided, such as having longer breaks, is enabling people with chronic illness to make their best contribution and deliver their best work, hence being an integral part of the team.
  • Play to the strengths of your employees. People with chronic illness display remarkable adaptability.

About Sarah


Photo of Sarah Berthon

Sarah Berthon is the founder of Excel against the Odds and is passionate about supporting people with chronic illness in the workplace.

Sarah lives with several chronic illnesses including PoTS, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, ME/CFS and Chronic Migraine and has experience of working in Corporate Organisations and running her own businesses whilst living with these conditions.

Sarah advises organisations on how they can better support employees with chronic illnesses, looking at strategy, raising awareness and providing one-to-one mentoring for both managers and employees.

Sarah also supports business owners with chronic illnesses and offers mentoring and workshops as well as a free community in the Entrepreneurs against the Odds Facebook group. She also host the Excel against the Odds podcast talking about the successes and challenges of working with a chronic illness.

Excel against the Odds was selected to be part of the Small Biz 100 in 2021. Sarah was chosen to be part of the #ialso F:entrepreneur campaign in 2023 celebrating the UK’s 100 most inspiring female business owners.


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