When we think of 'work life balance' it can give us the image in our heads of two separate things that compete with each other for our time and attention. Pitching 'work' versus 'life' can give the impression that 'work' isn't part of our 'life' when in fact, for many of us it is a big part. So how do we strike the balance?
The amount of time we spend in work and other areas of our life do not have to be in equal measure. We are all unique and the amount of time we spend on things is a very personal matter. What works for one person might not work for someone else. The difficulty comes when one area starts having a negative impact on the other. For example, we might be enjoying working late on a project but our partner or family can feel let down that we are not available to do things that they had planned so tension can mount. The other side of the coin could mean that we might feel pressured into finishing something at work and be negatively impacted by not being able to leave on time to get to a reunion with old friends.
If you are pitching 'work' against 'life' maybe it is time to re-assess what is happening and what changes you want to make? Sometimes we can be so lost in our day-to-day activities that we don't notice the impact on ourselves and those around us. Maybe it is time to take a different focus?
I think the trick to achieving the balance isn't just to play one off against the other but to take a holistic approach to life. The 'balance' part of the equation comes by integrating many things so that whatever we are doing in our day - we are a whole person experiencing things by being fully present in each moment.
To me it isn't about work and life being in balance but about each of us being in balance within ourselves. If we can do that then work and life naturally fall into balance with each other. That can be easier said than done but there are some fundamentals to consider - and with the desire to be different - the desire for things and ourselves to be in balance, it has to be worth the effort!
Here are my tips for creating personal balance:
- Start with who you are as a person - what are your personal values and the things that are important to you? These are your foundation stones and will form the basis of your behaviours and approach to everything in life. If your values are not met and you don't have time on the things that are important to you, you will feel out of balance, dissatisfied and maybe even stressed.
- Make time for exercise so you get your endorphin levels up - your bodies natural 'happy hormone'. This will help keep your inner resilience levels up and help to counter balance any negatives that might be whizzing around your system.
- A healthy balanced diet and snacks will give you the right fuel to keep your energy levels up and your mood good. You can't drive a car without the right kind of petrol so don't think you can keep going on empty either.
- Listen to others. If you don't listen you are not fully engaged so won't get the maximum out of conversations or your relationships. Great conversations ensure both parties get something out of it and feel good about it. Having a good connection to others is one of the fundamentals in life. We are not built to be isolated all the time.
- Control what you can control. Worrying about all the things outside of your sphere of influence can tie you up in knots. So come back into yourself and look at your immediate needs and what you need to deal with.
- Make sure you are getting mental stimulation and creativity. Your brain is like a muscle and needs to be exercised. The flip side of that is to not have so much going on that you can't think straight!
- Let others know you appreciate them for the value they bring into your life. Help other people where you can - it is actually great for promoting your own wellbeing as it has been proven to help us feel good!
- Make time for yourself. We all need private, quiet time to integrate what has happened to us in the day. Also having time for relaxation is a fundamental in calming your system. Things like massage, meditation, yoga etc all help to calm your mind and body from the pace of the day.
- As well as relaxing with personal downtime, get plenty of sleep. When in REM sleep, our dreaming brain allows us to discharge all the things we haven't dealt with in the day so we have a fighting chance at tackling tomorrow. Effectively dreaming helps to keep your stress levels in check. Your body, including your brain, recharges when you are in deep sleep, so it is fundamental to your energy levels.
- Be proud of your achievements, learn from mistakes or where you could have done better and put time and effort into your personal growth.
Take a fresh approach to your life. If you need to make some changes set yourself some realistic goals. If they are big things, break the goal down into manageable chunks so you don't feel overwhelmed.
We all make a difference in the world. We all impact on each other in all of our interactions. Make sure your impact is positive.
You can start by bringing yourself into personal balance.