How to Achieve a Work-Life Balance

How to Achieve a Work-Life Balance

I welcome Julie Morris, author of this guest post.

We hear the term “work-life balance” all the time, but as a life coach, I’ve noticed that most people don’t really strive for it. In fact nearly half of working Americans reported taking zero vacation days in 2014, and many who do take their vacation time still end up bringing work along.

Making time for yourself and the activities you enjoy is a crucial element of overall wellness–especially when it comes to mental health. It can even make going to work less stressful! It takes a conscious effort, but finding the right balance of work and play is easier than you might think whether you’re an entrepreneur, a full-time parent, or a working student.

With a busy lifestyle comes stress, anxiety, and even depression as we try to battle through balancing work with the demands of life. It’s difficult to manage a long to-do list at work while worrying about all the things you have to take care of at home. So it’s important to know a few tips on how to relax, stay healthy, and manage your stress.

One of the first things you’ll need to do is get organized. A good planner can go a long way toward helping you keep track of everything you need to do, and having it written down in front of you can help you stay on task and give you a sense of accomplishment once you cross it off your list.

Read on to find out how you can manage work and daily life in a healthy way.

  1. Put away the screen

Once you’ve made a schedule, be sure to stick to it. Write down all your plans, events, and responsibilities and leave time to get shopping, cleaning, and other chores done. Afterward, you’ll have a good idea of how much free time you can carve out to go to the gym, relax with a book, or catch up on your favorite television shows, and while you’re doing those things, put away the computer and phone. It’s important to have time just to yourself when you aren’t answering emails or dealing with work issues.

  1. Learn how to relax

Studies have shown that chronic stress can actually double your chances of having a heart attack, and it can also lead to anxiety, depression, and heart disease. Learn to relax by trying out different techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Take a hot shower before bed at night to help ease tension; light lavender scented candles to aid in relaxation. You could even try picking up a new, low-key hobby like knitting, painting, or writing that allows you an outlet for expressing yourself.

  1. Be realistic

Setting goals is a good thing, but you’ll need to be realistic when you do so. Creating manageable tasks to accomplish is necessary when you’re balancing many things at once, so start small and work your way up. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help. For example, if you have the resources, you might hire helpers for tasks such as dog walking or house cleaning. Having someone lend a hand can help you finish your to-do list and take some of the pressure off your shoulders. If for some reason you can’t get to your planned relaxation activity (if you forgot your book at work, for instance), embrace the opportunity to try something new like going for a walk under the night sky. Make it easy on yourself to work in your “you” time, and soon it will feel more like a habit.

  1. Listen to your favorite music

Listening to music that makes you happy can boost your mood, reduce stress, and help you be more efficient when you’re working. When you start to feel overwhelmed, turn on some music and see if it helps you focus.

  1. Learn to say no

Taking on too many projects or tasks is easy to do when you enjoy helping others. But it’s important to learn how to say no when someone wants too much of your time. It’s okay to kindly turn someone down when you already have a lot on your plate.

We often convince ourselves we “don’t have the time” to relax and do the things we actually want to do, but it’s simply not true. In fact, making time for ourselves can be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, discover new hobbies, and find an overall sense of inner peace.

This post was written by Julie Morris. She  is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Check out Julie’s blog here. She will have even more advice to help you achieve a work-life balance. 

Belonging

Belonging

When I saw that I belonged to so many wonderful people, I started to relax.

Children give us things: sleepless nights and bills to pay. But sometimes, as adults, their own experience can awaken things in us—shed light on something we believe but forgot to truly examine.This recently happened to me and it underlined what it truly means to BELONG to someone.

As she nursed her baby, my middle child and I were conversing about my future, because even as I age I have dreams about my life—what I want from it, what it should be. And then she said quietly:

Mom, now is the time when you can relax, kick back sometimes, enjoy your life.

Why? I asked immediately, thinking of all the things I still want to do or have to do for myself and for my family.

Her answer: Mom, you belong.  That’s all we really need in life.  My child here, he knows he belongs, even at seven months.  If he didn’t know that, he wouldn’t thrive. You belong.  You have earned that with your very life.

In many ways her words were a revelation.  And they calmed me; they were a gift, highlighting the importance of my very living.  I sat back and realized my life was full of achievement, because I do belong—to my daughter, to her three children, to my husband and my other children—to my extended family and many friends.

Belonging harkens back to the beginnings of Homo sapiens who formed tribes.  They needed this formation to share work and to increase their safety.  The downside—rules and laws had to be enacted.  When you belong to a group, you just cannot do whatever you damn please.  Through evolution we have come to a place that demands belonging for our physical and psychological survival.

Belonging is a basic need in Maslow’s Hierarchy.  It drives us more than the need for esteem.  Belonging includes love, and often we won’t risk the loss of that love by leaving the group we belong to, just to seek more esteem in another group that might not love us.

You probably make decisions every day about the importance or hierarchy of the groups you belong to.  I remember a nurse manager meeting with me about my schedule and asking right out which was more important to me, my job as a labor and delivery nurse or my family.  Easy answer.  My family.  She frowned.  That wasn’t what she wanted to hear, but she put up with my schedule and me.

Of course, further down the list of the groups you belong to, your ties are often not that strong: community groups, clubs, work cliques.  As time passes, if we find ourselves clinging to a group that doesn’t honor us—it is often better to leave that group and find one that appreciates and welcomes our individuality.

In her piece “Friends for Life” in Better Homes and Gardens, Michele Meyer recently wrote about the physical and psychological need for lasting friendships.  She quotes Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD: “Social interactions have profound physiological benefits, from reduced risk of depression to enhanced immune function.”  She also quotes  John T. Cacioppo PhD: “In our research, loneliness led to increased blood pressure, as well as higher morning rises in cortisol (stress hormone) and less restful sleep.”

Just as my daughter made me aware, I know I am not revealing anything that you didn’t know deep down in your gut.  If you belong to someone or even to something, you can kick loneliness down the road: a loving spouse is fantastic, but a furry friend, an exciting group, or coworkers who truly get you, help too.

Bottom line: now when I’ve had a troubling day or things follow that normal bumpy, confusing, sometimes crazy pattern—I stop and say to myself: It’s okay, Beth, you belong.

I urge all of you to rely on that and to support such feelings in all the people you love, people who belong to you and you to them.

Thanks to Google Images   For More Ideas on Belonging