How can we balance our work and personal life? Is that even possible in today’s fast-paced world?
It’s not always easy but we can start with being mindful of what I like to call a “Wellness Inventory.” What do I mean by Wellness Inventory? Basically, it’s a checklist of “needs” (not to be confused with “wants”) that we can use to keep our lives in check and balance those areas where we may be off kilter.
For example: If you’re feeling exhausted, unable to focus, overwhelmed, or feel particularly impatient… take a minute to ask yourself: Did I eat today? Did I get enough sleep last night? Did I get my workout in? Do I need more “me” time? Is there any particular reason I’d be more hormonal than usual at this time (ladies)? Just taking the time to ask yourself these things can greatly change how we react to situations that we may otherwise overreact to.
In my sessions I see different clients from all walks of life often coming to me with very similar issues… effectively, how do we strike a balance between our professional life and our personal one? How do we pursue our careers without hindering our personal life, like time with our families? Or negatively affecting our own personal growth? While there is no easy answer for this, and certainly everyone’s path is different, a Wellness Inventory can help us to navigate through life’s uncertainties in a more mindful manner… I have found this to be a useful tool which I’ve implemented with my clients in their therapy sessions and a practice that should extend well beyond.
In fact, I say this every other session and add it in most of my articles! Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care! There, in this one I said it 3 times so far 🙂 Think of it as a form of self-preservation without which we can easily burn out! By checking our Wellness Inventory, we can check off if we’re missing anything or if there’s something we need to catch in order to be able to be the best version of ourselves on any given day. When we’re going a mile a minute it’s easy to allow our needs to go by the wayside trying to meet everyone else’s.
We need to be mindful of our Wellness Inventory! Check yourself, before you wreck yourself!
We need to nurture ourselves. Cut ourselves some slack. Learn how to delegate! Ask for help when needed. When we try to take on too much we can end up frustrated or feeling guilty about the results because we feel we fell short. Guilt can be a tremendous weight that can cause stress, anxiety and depression. We are our worst critic. We need to learn to be less harsh on ourselves and accept that we need to slow down. When you’re not fully engaged, you’re never fully present in the moments because you’re too busy worried about the next thing on your list. Be mindful about being present in the here and now in order to avoid feeling that what we’re doing is not enough.
We try to work more to provide a better life for our families and then feel guilty for not spending enough quality time with our loved ones. That’s a lose-lose situation. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Learn to accept that we can’t do it all, all of the time… there are certainly consequences for not having work/life balance, and they can include:
Lack of focus and concentration leading to poor productivity at work and home.
Spending less time with loved ones or not being really present because we’re being called away from activities for work related issues.
Missing important events all together because we’re working or we’re too exhausted to attend.
High levels of stress leading to anxiety or depression.
Feeling burnt out or fatigued due to lack of rest and not getting our needs met.
WHAT WE CAN DO:
1. Get better at delegating! If Batman didn’t have Alfred to assist him in all his missions he’d probably fall asleep at the wheel and crash the Batmobile as a result of exhaustion from trying to do everything on his own! But he doesn’t because he delegates to Alfred. Be like Batman 🙂
2. Make exercise a priority as it elevates energy levels, helps you concentrate better and boosts self-esteem. When we neglect our self-care, we will be cranky, agitated, impatient, and overwhelmed because we aren’t meeting our needs and therefore have low energy levels and high stress levels.
3. Avoid unnecessary distractions like social media. It takes up so much more time than we think. Don’t believe me? Check your phone’s screen time…. I’m sure most of us will be surprised just how much of our valuable time goes to that kind of stuff instead of doing something more productive like spending time with our loved ones, doing things for ourselves, (and for our new parents out there) even getting some sleep! Be mindful. Refocus on what actually matters.
4. Disconnect… don’t interrupt your relaxation. It will cause stress. We need to recharge our batteries. Rest and relaxation is key!
That last one is kind of important so let’s say it again… We NEED to disconnect! We can’t be present in a particular moment if our nose is in our phones checking emails or reviewing tomorrow’s agenda. We need to make sure and focus on what’s happening in the here and now. We need to stop taking our present for granted. We’ll want to cherish the memories with our children who grow so fast but if we are not fully present and fully engaged we’re going to miss out on an awful lot.
To really disconnect means you don’t look at your phone during dinner. In fact, dare I suggest leaving it in another room… dun dun dunnn (dramatic sound effect). I know it’s hard for me too! But we’ll never be fully engaged in what’s going on around us unless we avoid distractions that would otherwise take us away from the present. This should also extend to things like vacations… meaning when you’re on vacation that means you’re on VACATION! You’ve checked out of the office, so you can really relax, rest, and enjoy your time off! That’s why it’s called time off! Don’t worry about taking pictures all the time either. Mental pictures can mean more and last so much longer… Imagine if you’re trying to get your phone to take a picture and you just might miss your 1 and half year old saying the f-word for the first time when the seagulls he’s been chasing fly away (happened to me last weekend).
Accepting your circumstances and making the best of them is already half the battle. Instead of breaking your head about how to improve or “fix it” sometimes we just have it to accept the circumstances that are beyond our control and look for the positive. Ask yourself the following question when you catch yourself over thinking things to help let go of what we have no control over:
Is there something I can do today that will change anything? No? Then go to sleep! We’ll deal with it tomorrow. By taking the time for ourselves in order to be the best version of ourselves, we can slowly get the balance most of us are in such dire need of!
OVER TO YOU:
What consequences do you suffer when your life goes out of balance? What steps do you take to bring it all in?