In our high-demand lives, wanting to “find balance” is practically a universal quest. Yet achieving balance is not a once-and-done pursuit. And it really isn’t about devoting equal amounts of time to our personal, work and family life. Instead, it’s more realistic to strive for attaining a sense of steadiness or stability as we experience the changing day-to-day life demands, allowing us to feel both happiness and accomplishment. Here are some tips to live a life more in balance, no matter what life throws at you:
Define what you want. Be specific. Instead of a vague thought like, “I want to spend more quality time with my family,” set your goal as, “I want to spend at least an hour every week one-on-one with each of my children.”
Reexamine your priorities daily. For example, is working through lunch today more important than taking that daily walk you’ve been wanting to do? Focusing on your priorities regularly can help you stay the course to more fulfillment.
Strive for, and appreciate, the moments of steadiness. It’s unrealistic to expect to feel calm, relaxed or content all of the time. In fact, a sense of balance may only come in small moments, reappearing over and over. You may need to take care of a home maintenance issue instead of visiting your sister, for example. That’s okay. You will find this steadiness again–the point is to keep striving to include what is important to you.
Practice mindfulness. Just taking even five minutes to sit quietly and follow your breath can help you feel less fragmented, and more connected and balanced.
Share the load with others. Drop the idea that you have to do everything yourself from the grocery shopping and cleaning to planning events in order to have it done right! Your spouse, kids, relatives and others in your life can be clued in on what needs to be done, given lists (or better yet, recruiting their help in making the lists), and provided deadlines. Then, it’s up to you to let go of perfection!
Get out into nature whenever possible. Take the dog for a walk around the block instead of always just letting Fido out in the backyard. Stroll to the corner mailbox. Park far away from your destination. Even in small doses, just breathing fresh air, feeling the solid earth beneath your feet, and gazing at the landscape can bring you back to your senses, leaving you feeling refreshed, steady and clear-headed.
Do something different! Whether you take a day trip to hear a new band in a nearby town, or sign up for a class in aikido, pottery or memoir writing at your local community college, doing something novel can help you feel rejuvenated and energized.
Take your vacation time. And, if you can, use any accrued sick time for mental health days here and there. Even a half day spent doing something restorative can be a great reset!
If you are consistently feeling burned out, unbalanced and overwhelmed, talk to your healthcare practitioner for suggestions to regain a sense of stability and control.