Do you feel balanced? What does it actually mean to be in balance? It seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind of late. Finding balance between work, your social life and family… But in today’s high speed, high pressure and high-stress world, it’s not just balance between work and family that’s hard to find.
If you, like me, are a (single) parent of small children, you very likely constantly struggle to find balance between the needs of your family and your own needs – for exercise, time to read or be alone, to visit with friends, even to take a long hot shower, and so on. Or are you a single without children who is working so hard that you have troubles developing a social life, or even finding some down time for yourself? Or are you so involved in partying that you fail to take care of either your physical needs or the demands of your job? Balance is an issue for all of us….
Maintaining a healthy life balance is not only essential for happiness and well-being; it can be a tremendous boost to your productivity as well. As a well-balanced person you have a far greater ability to focus your attention and energy on attaining your goals.
My big question is…What does life balance really mean? What would a balanced life look like? And most importantly, how do I go about achieving it in the midst of my crazy schedule?
I discovered that the key point of creating balance in life is that it is a lifetime project. It is ongoing. It is not a finite goal at the end of which you will have a peaceful, calm and meaningful life. Balance is a way of living. It is a process…
However there are steps we can take to change what isn’t working and get back some control and balance in our lives. I am trying it and for me it seems to work a bit better step by step!
And once you start seeing results, like me, you’ll be better equipped to maintain that new found equilibrium. The key is not to try to change everything at once, but to make small adjustments over time to determine what works for you. Eventually we will have a whole new set of positive life habits and we’ll never look back (hopefully ;-)!
The strategies that work for me and hopefully also for you:
Turn it off – Disconnecting is one of the most important things on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself (electronically) from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Give your work brain a rest. Bonus: Spend the extra time actually interacting with your family and friends!
Trim,trim, trim – It’s a given that if your life is overflowing you will never be able to achieve balance and manage it all. It’s just not possible. Learn to say no to everything that is either not essential or doesn’t add something valuable to your life. Be ruthless! People pleasing is a one way ticket to stress because guess what? You can’t please all the people all the time! If you’re worried that people won’t like you as much for saying no – think again. People will probably like and respect you more if you are honest with them instead of over-committing yourself and having to cancel things at the last minute.
Get enough sleep – Too little or bad quality sleep can have some serious consequences. Not only does it affect your physical health, but lack of sleep can also contribute to overall stress. In addition it can turn into a vicious cycle, since stress often leads to disruptions in sleep. Especially when feeling stressed, try to schedule a full seven to nine hours of snooze time.
Exercise – Exercise has a positive impact on disease and overall health, but exercise has also reliably been shown to boost your energy and mood. The higher the intensity of the workout, the more you will benefit! Find a sport you like, I am hooked to Padel (a mix of tennis and squash, real fun!)
Eat well – Foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges, lemons and grapefruits, may help lower your stress hormones. Omega-3s, like those found in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds have a calming effect. Part of eating well means focusing on getting whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Fancy something sweet? Dark chocolate has a calming effect and eating chocolate in general makes you feel good 😉
Minimize toxins – By that I don’t mean chemicals (though that might help too.) Minimize the negative influences around you. Avoid toxic people (complainers, whiners, poor attitudes.) If you can’t completely avoid them, at least minimize contact and tune them out as much as you can. Surround yourself with positive, supportive, can-do people whenever possible
Connect with your own spirituality – Spirituality can help to find balance, probably because it encourages you to feel a sense of purpose and connection to others. You can tap your spiritual side by doing something to help others, volunteering for a cause that means something to you, reading an inspirational story, practising mindfulness, yoga, meditating, praying etc. The goal is to do something at least once each day that inspires self-reflection.
Laugh – Laughter is the best medicine! Laughing out loud increases oxygen and blood flow which automatically reduces stress. Not taking life too seriously can help everyone live a better and easier life.
Spend time alone – Spending time alone can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. But a lot of us – myself included – suck at being alone. If you’re like me, you prefer spending time with other people. You like to share, whether it’s food, movies, or adventures. But it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the background chatter that’s constantly going on in our lives without choosing to take some alone time. What’s more, due to our instant connectivity to the outside world with our phones, we often feel like we can’t “switch off,” as we should always be doing something productive. Being alone sparks creativity, it builds independence, and it can help you decrease your stress levels . Some things to try; meditate, write, sketch, read, take a long bath, listen to music or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing. You can do it!
Relationships do matter – Spend time with your family and friends. Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen – out of all the things to do on your busy schedule – to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Taking the time to connect with those you love will bring you true happiness. The more you do it, the happier you’ll be.
Treat yourself – Get a pedicure or a facial. Better yet, schedule a massage. It doesn’t need to be costly; a glass of wine, your favourite coffee or tea, a delightfully scented candle or beautiful flowers will make a huge impact.
Just give it a try! You don’t have to do it all at once. But if you make a start you will see it will get easier, you will appreciate it and feel better, more peaceful and more ‘ in balance’; a better version of yourself! And ultimately you don’t only do that for yourself, but also for the people around you. A better YOU is positive and strong in life and you are not the only one that benefits, it also benefits the relationship with your partner, your children, your family and your friends as well as your work life. Everything you want in your life can start with a decision you make today 😉 Go for it!