Our society places a high value on busyness. We’re expected to hold a full-time job, raise healthy, well-adjusted children, and have a clean house. There’s not much emphasis placed on making sure we’re taking care of our own needs, let alone finding a good work/life balance and reducing our stress.
How many of us find ourselves rushing from one stress to the next, eating on the go, taking care of everyone else’s priorities…and rarely doing things just for us?
Finding balance can be difficult, but it’s always, always, always possible. There are times where we’re stuck in traffic, standing in line, or waiting at a stoplight. These are opportunities for you to take a few slow, deep breaths, bring your awareness into the present moment, and remember that you are more than the sum of your roles in life.
Once you start claiming these small moments for yourself, you might find yourself craving more. As Garrett Gunderson said (in a podcast I recently heard), “We show up as a better version of who we are when we treat ourselves as a great asset.”
Here are some other powerful ways to work more balance into your life:
1. Start small – find time at the beginning or end of your day, and make it a daily habit.
- If you’re naturally an early riser, try getting up a bit earlier. Starting your day with focused solitude – a meditation, prayer, or gratitude practice – helps you begin from a place of balance. Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning” is a great resource for starting a morning practice.
- If you’re a night owl, try spending some time before bed doing things that soothe your soul. Take a warm bath, meditate, read, or do some restorative yoga. Remember, this is your time, and as you get used to doing this for yourself you’ll find other ways to separate from your stress.
- If possible, leave your work at work. Don’t check email, and don’t allow yourself to be drawn back into work once you’ve left. Draw a line between your work life and your personal life.
- Try truly unplugging for a short time each week. Turn off your phone, don’t watch television, and spend some time without electronics distracting you.
- Even if it’s just a short walk around the block, increasing your heart rate and respiration can improve the way you handle stress. If you’re already on a fitness plan, make sure you make time for it 4-5 days per week.
- Yoga is a great way to reduce your stress and improve your fitness. Many students report an increased sense of calm and focus after a class.
4. Go outside.
- Spending time in nature has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost your immune system, reduce stress hormone production, and improve overall feelings of well-being.
- Mindfulness meditation is the practice of bringing your awareness into the present moment, without judgment. Even just 5 minutes of focused awareness every day can help to slowly shift your mindset away from a reactive mode to a calmer, more aware state of mind.
6. Pay attention to your health.
- When we’re caught up in being busy all the time, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of unhealthy eating and sedentary behavior. Many of our modern day ills can be avoided by simply eating a diet based in whole, natural foods and getting some regular exercise. Start by removing a few of the packaged foods from your diet and replacing them with nutritious fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Add in a little gentle exercise, and you may find that your energy increases as your overall health improves.
Finding balance in your life is a very personal thing – what works for one person may not work for another. Spending time discovering what relieves your stress and helps you feel good is worth every moment, and will certainly improve your life. Start small, and build on your successes!