The idea of work-life balance has become so common as to almost be cliché at this point. When I Googled work-life balance, the internet came back with 1,720,000,000 results!
Stress, juggling schedules, unexpected work deadlines, dealing with school-age children or aging parents (or both), illness – all of these can impact us at one time or another and upset our equilibrium in varying degrees.
It’s a big topic and the lack of it can result in increasing stress on the body and mind which in turn can lead to higher risk of stress-related diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, anxiety and depression, and more. Not to mention none of it sounds like a lot of fun.
Being a big topic, I don’t have an easy one-size-fits-all approach to share, but I do have a few ideas based on my own research and experience.
Find a quiet space for yourself every day. Meditation has been my go-to for finding a quiet space for the better part of the last 35 years or so. If I miss a day, which sometimes happens, I literally feel it, and am somehow “off” that day. It makes that big a difference for me.
Other people I know find taking a walk in the early morning, or doing some inspirational reading a way to find that time for themselves. What you choose to do is not as important as finding something that works for you. Even 10 minutes can make a big difference in how your day goes.
Spend time outdoors daily. Research continues to emerge showing that time spent outside has significant health benefits and helps improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It can even make you feel happier!
Ask yourself: Are you living to work or working to live? Modern culture values keeping up, getting ahead, power, achievement, and financial success. While achievement is admirable, and we need to have financial well-being in order to live healthy and productive lives, focusing on our work and getting ahead to the exclusion of other activities is a recipe for unhappiness and burnout.
What do you love to do? What’s a favorite pastime? One of my favorite activities is wandering through an art museum for an afternoon. Maybe you love to garden, or create wonderful meals. Doing those things that feed our soul can help us feel more balanced and whole.
Self-care is not self-indulgence. It’s a necessary part of your health and well-being. This goes along with the last question. I’m not talking (necessarily) about getting a massage or a manicure. I’m talking about taking time for you, for what you love, even if it’s just sitting out on your deck watching the sun go down. Playing tennis once a week, or having a regular Friday night movie date, even if it’s in your own home theater. I love to read, and there’s nothing I love more than sitting down with a captivating novel in the corner for an hour, so I am trying to make time for this on a regular basis.
Make time for your important relationships. We get out what we put in and our relationships are no exception. Close relationships with family and friends are cultivated with time and attention. Make time for lunch with a friend or a phone chat with someone important to you on a regular basis. Healthy relationships and connections with others are a vital factor in well-being.
Be Present. Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what we have to do, or what happened yesterday, or what we’ve got going on next week. Denis Waitley once said, “A good life is a collection of happy moments.” Listening to raindrops on your window, or giving your full attention to your spouse or child – these are the moments that make up a day. When you can appreciate the moments of your day fully, you are living your life more fully.
Let go of what no longer serves you. If a relationship or situation in your life constantly feels toxic, draining, or not in keeping with your values, you may want to reconsider whether that is a situation you want to remain in. If it’s draining you, it’s depleting your energy and the quality of your life.
These are some of my random thoughts and ideas about staying in healthy balance, and I’m better at some of them than others. I try to remember that my own life is a work in progress, and yours is, too. I try to stay open to new ways of looking at life, and make adjustments as I go along. I think we all have an inner compass that can guide us as we go along. When I pay attention to that inner voice, life flows more easily and that elusive balance I have looked for just seems to find me.
Thoughts? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.