So often we hear these notions about finding an optimal work life balance. What does that even mean? We all feel stress in our lives and can probably agree that we’d like to feel better. But how do we balance work and life when we feel tired all the time and so stretched thin? How do we show up for our partners, our children, our bosses, and ourselves in an authentic way when we’re in a constant state of hurry or panic? Let’s start by taking a look at what balance really is.
Balance is defined as a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. This means that we find our happy place when we balance out our mental highs and lows. So as we experience stress throughout the day, it’s equally important to experience quiet moments of calmness to keep our mental state in check. The key to success is figuring out a way to incorporate some quality “me” time during a day that’s filled with long commutes, deadlines, heavy workloads, screaming children and financial responsibilities.
Here are some useful tips for creating some balance into your day.
- Create a positive morning ritual: The way you start your day sets the tone for your whole experience of life. So skip reading your email the second you open your eyes. Instead, do something that feels good. Take 5 minutes to breathe deeply. Stretch for 5 minutes. Make yourself a filling breakfast and sit down at the table to actually enjoy eating it. Sit outside to drink your morning coffee, taking in the beauty of your surroundings, or reading the paper. The key is to slow down.
- Take breaks throughout the day: Our days are so filled with projects, client calls, meetings, and deadlines that we sometimes forget to take breaks. When we actually take a few minutes to get up from our desks to stretch our legs and step away from our tasks, it gives us the essential downtime we need to recharge our brains. When we sit back down, we gain more clarity than before, and our productivity rises. So, get up and move your body. Go outside for a breath of fresh air. Take a quick walk. Grab a glass of water. Practice some mindfulness. You’ll feel much better for doing so.
- Carve out 20 minutes each day for something nourishing or fun: Including something that you enjoy into your daily routine will make you feel much more balanced. So take 20 minutes to read a book or magazine. Soak in a hot bath. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Go for a bike ride. Play with your kids. Take your dog for a walk and toss the ball. Hit some balls at the driving range.
- Move! We sit for FAR too long during the day, leaving our muscles fatigued and impeding our circulation. Instead of chaining yourself to your desk for hours on end, get up and take mini-movement breaks. Do some desk stretches. Go outside for some fresh air. Walk around the office for a few minutes. Take a phone call standing or pacing around your office. Walk around the block. You should get up and move for at least 2 minutes every hour.
- Have something to look forward to: We all know how fun it is to look forward to our upcoming vacation. Knowing that something fun is coming up, gives you extra joy in your day as you anticipate it. So plan a vacation. Organize a get together with some old friends on the weekend. Schedule yourself a fun class to attend one night after work. Trade off weekends with your spouse to take care of the kids for a few hours on Saturday morning so you can have some time for yourself.
- Shift into a positive frame of mind: It’s impossible to find balance when we are stuck in a negative headspace where we’re constantly mulling over the past or worrying about the future. Find some inner peace of mind by focusing on the present moment and letting go of the rest. Worrying doesn’t change your situation. All it does is rob you of your joy. So shift out of that by focusing on the good that’s all around you. Deliberately pay attention to the positive things that are happening, no matter how big or small. The more you focus on that, the better you’ll feel.
- Practice gratitude before bed: Gratitude is a powerful way to instantly shift into a positive frame of mind. Thinking about the things you are most grateful for in your life instantly fills you up with a loving feeling. Fear and love cannot coexist. When you focus on the things you are grateful for, all negative thought patterns disappear into the background. Practicing gratitude before bed calms you down, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and have better dreams.