“There just isn’t enough of me to go around! It’s our busy season at work and it’s impossible to keep up with my job demands on top of my family responsibilities. It feels like I am headed for a break-down!”
When your life seems out of control and you’ve got endless demands tugging at you from all directions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, fatigued and just plain stressed! You know you need to do something to preserve your health and your sanity, but what can you do?
Believe it or not, balancing your life does not require massive changes. You don’t have to quit your job, abandon your family and escape to a remote retreat in order to feel peaceful and happy. In fact, true balance is something that starts WITHIN YOU first and foremost, no matter what else is happening in your outer life circumstances. Attitudes, habits and choices will determine the balance you achieve.
Below you’ll find three simple ways to begin building a greater sense of inner peace and harmony.
Quiet time – One of the first things we tend to sacrifice when we’re busy is our personal time. Instead, we devote all of our energy and attention to caring for others, multi-tasking, meeting responsibilities and “being productive.” Over time this depletes our energy and we begin to feel more and more burdened by our responsibilities.
To live a more balanced life, quiet time for yourself is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. You may believe that you don’t have any time available for yourself, but something amazing happens when you consistently MAKE time. You will find yourself feeling happier and more energetic and your focus improves – and you still get plenty done! Just a few minutes spent sitting quietly in prayer, meditation or reading an uplifting book can do wonders in transforming stress into peace and happiness.
Some ideas to help you find quiet time: Come back 5-10 minutes early from your lunch break and close your office door or take a walk around outside the building; or skip listening to the radio on your commute home or switch to soft music; turn off the television an hour earlier to give yourself a chance to relax in silence before bed. And, although venting about your frustrations in person or on social media may be appropriate at times, maybe some of the time would be better spent in peace and quiet.
Self-care – What kind of advice would you give to a friend or colleague who was struggling and on the edge of burnout? You would probably suggest that they treat themselves well. You would tell them that caring for themselves is priority – so be sure to do no less for yourself.
Beyond making time for things you enjoy, there are other ways to nurture and love yourself on a daily basis. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep (or as much as you personally need) is a great start, as well as eating nutritious food, exercising daily and speaking kindly to yourself.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re really tired or stressed, even the smallest problem can seem like a nightmare? On the other hand, when you’re feeling well-rested and centered, you’re much better able to handle upsets. Caring for yourself is one sure way to consistently replenish your energy, inner peace and joy – which means you’ll have the strength to handle whatever comes your way.
Flexibility – Did you know that one of the biggest causes of stress is rigid expectations? We all do it from time to time – create a mental picture of how our lives “should be” and then get really annoyed when our outer circumstances don’t cooperate! One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is a flexible state of mind. In other words, learn how to detach from unrealistic expectations and go with the flow.
When you have a flexible mindset, you’re able to deal with crises and problems much more easily because you’re not working against a preconceived notion of how things “should” be. You’re able to tap into your creative problem-solving skills and move through challenges without all the drama and frustration. Be like the tree that bends with the breeze – and you’re much less likely to break!
These inner changes can make a dramatic difference in your state of well-being, but you may also want to examine your outer life circumstances and see if there are other small changes you can make to help support your internal well-being.
For example, you might choose to let go of certain obligations that are no longer meaningful or enjoyable to you. Just because you agreed to host weekly meetings for a networking group three years ago doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it forever – especially if it’s become a drain on your time and energy! Be willing to let go of activities that no longer complement the lifestyle you desire, and you’ll create a space for greater fulfillment, joy and peace. Sometime, what your life needs most is a well-placed “No!”
We would like to hear from you! What have you discovered that helps you keep life in balance. What tip would you give a friend who is feeling overwhelmed? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.