Finding Balance In This New Normal
“If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire.” – Brené Brown
Finding balance in our lives is a lifetime project. It is not a fixed goal at the end of which you will have a calm, relaxed, and meaningful life.
Looking for balance is a mindset that leads to wellness. When we feel out of balance, our emotions get out of whack. Feeling out of balance can be both a sign and a result of stress. Research shows that it can lead to many other emotional and physical symptoms, ranging from general feelings of irritability to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, to stomach problems, headaches, sleeping disorders, and other physical/mental symptoms.
So, what can you do to find some balance in your life?
1) First, take a deep breath. Most of us are holding our breath far more often than we realize. Anxiety, depression, and stress all cause us to constrict our breathing, making us feel even more out of balance. Stress releases cortisol into the body, which can have a negative effect on both our mental and physical well-being. Clinical studies have shown that learning to breathe deeply stimulates our relaxation response; and through relaxation techniques, we can help to undo some of the harm caused by stress. Taking a deep breath is the beginning of finding balance in our lives.
2) Time Yourself. Author and time-management coach Jamie Novak points out that few people assign a time limit to a task. “Sure, to-do lists make us more productive; so, does grouping the tasks into batches and prioritizing them,” she said. But that does not mean you’ll get them done in the time you allotted, or that whatever you are batching won’t end up taking over your day. The more you time yourself and become aware of how long a task takes you, the more time you’ll be able to identify and re-purpose in your schedule.
3) Adopt Time Theming. To help ensure work-life balance, Mike Vardy, founder of the Productivity’s consultancy, says this technique -Time theming – assigning a main theme to a given afternoon, or perhaps a full day of the week – is a great way to avoid decision fatigue. Mike explained: “Theming your months, weeks and days gives you less to think about when you’re trying to decide what to do because that time has already been given some thematic value.” For instance, every Friday could be themed ‘friends day,’ and every Saturday could be themed ‘family day.’ By theming different priorities into your calendar, you can gain more freedom and flexibility to start creating a work-life balance that fulfills them finally.
4) Be specific. It’s more useful to say, “I’m going to spend an hour alone with each child sometime this week,” than to say, “I’m going to have quality time with each of my children.” Quality time is a great concept, but it’s also a vague one. And since it’s so vague, it’s hard to know whether or not you’ve accomplished that goal, which makes it hard to feel in balance. The same is true if you say that you’re going to eat healthily or exercise more. Set something specific—for example, this week you’ll add kale to three meals, or you’ll have fruit with your breakfast every morning; or decide that you’ll run for thirty minutes on Wednesday and Friday mornings.
5) Get enough rest and sleep. We think if we just meditated enough, or jogged enough, ate perfect food, or did this or that, everything would be perfect. But not only is that not possible, that actually adds more pressure to your already loaded list. To fell a sense of balance, it is not just about what you do, but also what you stop doing. Stopping everything to allow 7 to 9 hours of sleep and recover is an essential component to finding balance in your life.
Practice Relaxation Techniques such as meditation practices. The goal is not to become a master at it, but to keep practicing it. The same is true in life. As long as we keep practicing “finding balance”, we will find one. Of course, we will lose it. But we will find it again.
And finally, remember that finding balance is not a one-time achievement.