It’s 5am and I am up, working…well, mostly. There may also be a little bit of catching up on social media too. It’s all about balance right? Balance is like the sea, ever changing and always returning to a natural, calm state at some point. It’s not something to be reached and firmly maintained. It is flexible and with a bit of awareness, it is easy to bring more balance into your life.
Remember that balance is particular to you, everyone creates their own balance, what feels right to them. The key is not to try to change everything at once, but to make small adjustments over time to determine what works for you. Here is a list of 8 easy ways to bring balance into your life – compiled through talking to people who feel balanced in their own lives. Choose strategies which resonate with you…
8 easy ways to bring balance into your life
- Flexibility – “9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.” no longer applies. With self-employment and flexible working on the rise, we are now free to choose how/when we work. I understand that to many people, getting up at 5 am doesn’t look balanced, but, for me, it feels good and allows me to have autonomy about how/when I work. Some days I work longer than others, other days I do no work and focus on the other priorities in my life. By giving yourself the flexibility to do business at all hours of the day or night, you are actually better able to enjoy both your work and your family even more.
- Boundaries – with flexibility, however, comes a responsibility to create boundaries. These may be fixed e.g. a no working rule after a certain time or on a particular day or it could be a more flexible approach – if it’s a good time I answer the phon, if not, it goes to answerphone and I will get back to you at a convenient time. In my opinion, with a flexible approach we must be even more mindful of our boundaries otherwise we can end up working all of the time and feeling more imbalanced.
- You can’t do everything – Sometimes you have to say no. Ah, those two little letters – so easy to say when you’re three but not so easy when you’re an adult. Whilst it might feel uncomfortable to say no, one of my clients yesterday was talking about how she feels so guilty when she says no to her clients, it is imperative that we do so (sometimes). Balance means looking after ourselves too. If we give too much away we end up with an empty cup and that is not ideal for anyone. Say no to everything that is either not essential or doesn’t add something valuable to your life. Be ruthless! If you are struggling, there are a few questions which you might ask yourself:
- “Is this going to give me a feeling of accomplishment and a feeling of happiness?”
- “Does this fit with my values?”
- “If I say yes to this what am I saying no to?”
- Be realistic – having a balanced life means being realistic. This means being realistic about the fact that some things are just not going to get done. And, that’s ok. Those things may or may not get done in the future. The best piece of advice I heard was to be honest about why you’re not getting a task done – perhaps you don’t want to, perhaps it’s not a priority right now…but once you understand and admit what’s going on you can make a decision and prioritise what’s important.
- Disconnect – I hear the excuses already, but try it, at least for one day or even a few hours each night. Put the phone down and turn off the computer. Give your brain a rest; take regular breaks and look away from the computer, make a cup of tea or put a load of washing on…just me?
- Connect– Set aside quality time with your family and friends. Really connect and pay attention to those you care about; it takes effort but it’s worth it. Make a date with your significant other, have coffee with a friend, play a game with a child. Listen fully and see how your relationships grow.
- ‘I matter’ mindset – I know I sound like a broken record but although we know about self care, few of us actually do it. Making time for you is probably the hardest thing to do when you feel overworked and overwhelmed, but it is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. Some things to try; meditate, write, sketch, do some yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing. It doesn’t need to be costly; a glass of wine, your favorite coffee or tea, a scented candle or beautiful flowers will make a huge impact.When was the last time you took some time out of your day just for you?
- Celebrate success and failure – Remember that both accomplishments and failures are part of balance. Many of us don’t pay equal attention to both. If you’re someone who focuses on your failures, try to notice small moments of success. Observe the feelings it brings and see if you can figure out what makes you have to focus on the negative instead of the positive. If you can’t, that’s ok; it’s normal to fall out of that awareness back into more familiar thoughts. Just go back to the positive when you can. That’s balance.
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