When your work/life balance is off, you may find yourself tired, stressed, overwhelmed and short on time. This can lead to poor health, loss of productivity and burnout. Taking time to establish boundaries and create more balance in your life is an investment in your well-being, and necessary to avoid burnout. 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.
Set boundaries. This works both ways—leave work at work and home at home. Blurring the lines between your work life and your home life can contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked. If you’ve been working from home due to the pandemic, you know this can be challenging. Click here to learn work/life balance tips specific to working from home.
Keep two calendars. Unless you need to notify your family or work of travel plans, keeping separate calendars of your social activities and work engagements can be an effective balance strategy.
Strive for, and appreciate, the moments of steadiness. It’s unrealistic to expect to feel calm, relaxed or content all 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.
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 walk the trails of a new-to-you park, or sign up for an online class on memoir writing or woodworking, 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!
Recognize when you need to ask for help. 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.