If you are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or burned out, you may need to work on achieving balance in your life. Imagine your life as a pie chart, with each piece of the pie representing a different life domain. This can include: work, family, hobbies, friends, romantic relationships, community, religion and so on. Ask yourself this: are there one or two domains of life that are dominating my pie chart? If the answer is yes, it may be helpful for you to begin practicing balance in your life.
When our life is out of balance, we may notice an impact on our mental health, relationships, energy level and even our physical health. Without balance in our lives, we neglect our values and lose sight of our priorities. This can cause feelings of guilt, shame, fatigue, anxiety over and so many other things. Balance is important for our quality of life and overall wellness. Here are some ways to maintain balance in your life:
- Schedule: if you find yourself struggling to make time for things such as friends, self-care or even reading that book that has been sitting your nightstand for months: schedule the time for it. Often, we do not prioritize these things because we have convinced ourselves that there is just no time. Look at your schedule, notice when you have a break and then block off that time for yourself.
- Say no: it is ok to say no to people sometimes; even when that person is your boss, someone you really care about or even to yourself. To establish life balance, saying no will be necessary sometimes.
- Values: reflect on what your values of life are and then ask yourself if the life you are living is reflective of those values. Do you value family, but have no time to see them? Do you value traveling, but never take a day off? Start making time for your values; it is essential to your wellbeing and happiness.
- Re-frame how you think about time: we are often taught that is the upmost offense to waste precious time. This is seen as we witness colleagues debate over who is more stressed than other, or when we feeling guilty for ‘wasting’ time watching a movie. Time that is spent taking a break, talking on the phone to a loved one or spent on a hobby, is not wasted time. We cannot spend every hour of our day at work or being ‘productive.’ Why is taking a break not productive? Or getting that extra hour of sleep you desperately needed? Time spend on these activities is not wasteful, but very helpful. In fact, time spend on other activities may improve your work performance, level of motivation, and decrease feelings of resentment or guilt. What is so wasteful or unproductive about that?
- Start slowly: balance does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself and set realistic goals and expectations. Pick one domain of life a month that you wish to improve. Balance is meant to decrease your level of stress, not add to it.
I hope this helps get you started as you think about achieving a little more balance in your life. Try not to compare yourself to others during this process. Remember, our life domains and where we want balance is based on our own unique values, personality and lifestyle. As you begin to work on establishing balance, notice the impact it has on your life and reflect on it. This will help you remember why balance is important and worthwhile.