5 Tips For Cultivating A Good Work-Life Balance
When I hear people talking about how they need more “balance” in their lives, it kind of rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s just the word balance that throws me off (pun intended). I get what is meant. It’s that off-kilter feeling that ensues when various aspects of your life are out of whack. It’s what happens when all 52 of your cards are up in the air. It’s the feeling of a tension headache creeping up the back of your neck and into your skull.
Balance has many different meanings, but basically establishing equal or appropriate proportions to one’s life is what is meant by creating a solid balance between your personal life and work life. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to balance. Everyone is facing different challenges in life, whether it’s juggling family activities, commuting to an office job, operating your own business, or dealing with a sick parent.
What works best for you may take a little trial and error as life is constantly changing, but below are 5 tips that will help you ‘put you first’.
1) Healthy Lifestyle
This doesn’t mean jumping into an intense new exercise routine if that’s not what you’re used to or trying out the latest fad diet. The balance is in finding physical activities that relieve stress and lift your mood. Often, when we’re pressed for time, exercise is the first thing to go from our routine.
Exercise not only helps us sleep better, it reduces the body’s stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as nature’s painkillers and mood elevators. Have you ever experienced a “runner’s high”? It makes you feel good after you’re done with a hard workout.
Another component of self-care is a healthy diet. Once again, diet affects your mood and response to stress. Nutrition is directly linked to our emotional, physical and cognitive health. The balance of what to eat and how much can be tricky especially if you’re one of those people who skips breakfast and doesn’t like veggies.
The biggest problem I have is not drinking enough water. Anytime I’m feeling run down or groggy it’s usually because I am dehydrated. How hard is it to drink water? Apparently it’s tougher than I thought. Eight ounces eight times a day just doesn’t work for me. Water intake based on age, gender, size and activity levels varies, but basically you’re getting enough water if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow.
2) Hang Out with Your Peeps
Schedule time with your friends. The right people lift you up and support your mental and emotional wellbeing. Maybe you make a weekly standing date with a good friend, even if it’s for a couple of hours early in the evening on a weeknight. Having someone to exercise with is good because it makes you accountable to each other.
The secret to having a happy life is the quality of relationships with friends, and especially spouses, according to a long-standing Harvard study. Those in the strongest relationships were protected against chronic disease, mental illness and memory decline, even during the roller coaster of life.
3) Set Limits
Technology keeps us connected at all times, a good and a bad thing. For workaholics, staying off the computer during non-work hours is enough to make them break out in a cold sweat. Some people even thrive on workplace stress and say their work performance is actually improved by the release of the performance-boosting hormone adrenaline.
There’s not much that is more annoying than being around a loved one who can’t stay off their phone long enough to enjoy spending time together. It’s like saying work is more important than what’s right in front of you. Leave work at work and unplug. If you don’t work a 9-to-5 job, set a schedule and stick to it. Everyone will be happier.
4) Take Breaks
As a freelance writer, I could sit down at the computer for hours and not get out of my chair. I know what’s it’s like to be caught up in what you’re doing and forget to move. For 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon, I will go for a walk to clear my head. Sometimes I’ll just sit quietly with my eyes closed and watch all the thoughts pass in front of me without dwelling on each one individually.
5) Talk to Someone
Sometimes a third-party ear is what you need. A counselor or therapist will help you understand how your feelings affect thoughts and behaviors, otherwise known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s a good opportunity to see your problems in a different way and find your own answers to them with guided help.
At the end of the day, what we are all really doing is ‘juggling’ our responsibilities. It’s important to create a balancing act (see what I did there?) by taking time to care for yourself and the people most important to you. You don’t need a major life overhaul to create a little more balance and a lot more peace.
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