If you are like most of us, finding balance among all the demands of life acan be very challenging. The good news is that it is indeed possible, once we understand the process of finding balance.
Work-life balance is about finding the critical balance point between work and personal commitments. This process looks different for each person, and it looks different at the various stages of life.
The effects of imbalance are well-documented: frustration, anxiety, depression, stress, overwhelm, illness brought on by lack of self-care and more. When out of balance, one is also more likely to use substances to compensate… more food, more sugar, more alcohol, or more prescription drugs.
How does one turn this around? As with all change, the first step is to know where you are. Are you aware of being out of whack, but aren’t sure why? Perhaps you know where you’re out of kilter but you don’t know what to do about it.
Second, you need to know who is there to support you in making changes. Do you need to enroll your boss and propose flextime or telecommuting? Do you need to enroll your family to help out with responsibilities? Do you need a life coach to keep you motivated and focused?
Next, take a look at your personal boundaries. Are you a people pleaser who always says yes to every request? Do you offer to help others at the expense of your own time and stress? You may need to learn how to say no, and disentangle yourself from obligations you agreed to for the wrong reasons. It is both your right and your responsibility to choose how you spend your time and energy!
The next step is to review all your current obligations as well as those things you’d like to include in your life. The list may include self-care, hobbies, home and car maintenance, family obligations, time for yourself and others, social obligations (as well as socializing for fun), travel, classes, organizations, community and volunteer efforts, education, health, work and of course, sleep.
Now determine the actual time spent AND the desired time spent for each of those activities. You may find quite a disparity between the two. Your goal is to begin working towards the desired time allotment instead of how you spend it now. Prioritize your activities and find ways to delegate, automate or deal with what is not essential. You may decide to lower your standards for house-cleaning, negotiate for flex-time at work or find a new job altogether.
Next, you need to find ways to build decompression space into your day. This will provide you with opportunities to regenerate, clear your mind and keep stress at manageable levels.
Some options include meditation or yogic breathing. Daily meditation has been found to have beneficial results in balancing both hemispheres of the brain. You can also de-stress and center by simply stepping away from your desk and changing your surroundings while breathing consciously. Your body will thank you for it!