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Published on March 13, 2020

How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance

How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance

In life, it often feels like we are juggling a million things, and it usually is, in fact, the case that we try to do too many things at once. Finding a healthy life balance means aligning all areas in your life so that they aren’t in constant conflict. Have you ever found yourself overworking or piling on too many hours and neglecting time with your family or the exercise routine that would be good for your health?

There are people who are constantly busy and multitasking every hour of the day and into the night. Sometimes it’s difficult to shut our brains off and focus on being present. It is generally good advice given when someone tells you, “Leave your work at work. When your day ends, be done with it.” Life balance means that each area of your life stays where it should.[1]

For many years, I managed an alterations business, and it wound up interrupting almost every area of my life. It was difficult knowing where and when to draw boundaries, and I was constantly biting off more than I could chew. Consequently, my health and enjoyment of the work slipped. I was “all work and no play,” which took a toll on my relationships, as well.

Achieving balance as an entrepreneur or someone who juggles a lot in general can feel like a daunting task. Really, balance is about keeping the scale from tipping too far in one direction. Stress rears its ugly head when we pile on too much of something. That “something” is usually work, but not always. You may have children with demanding schedules, serious health issues that require constant attention, or a budding relationship that you need to give a lot of energy to.[2]

If you’ve found yourself unable to make time for cooking yourself healthy meals or taking breaks to smell the roses once in a while, that may be a red flag you’re overdoing something and are on a dangerous path towards burnout.

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Why Is Life Balance Important?

Stress is one (destructive) thing. Being over-stressed is when the stress becomes chronic and recurring to the extent of developing symptoms. At one point or another, we’ve found ourselves over-committing, hyper-compensating, and trying to be everything to everyone else but ourselves.

It’s only human to want to be a people pleaser and give, give, give. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to overdo one or more aspects of our life, not realizing the cost. It can be difficult to accept that you have limitations, that you are not superhuman, and that, although you may love what you do, you don’t want to be overtaxed and constantly rundown.

It’s important to begin simplifying your world by being honest about your limitations and being open with others in order to maximize your time and be effective in your work. Finding the areas in your life where you can minimize and simplify is a good first step. Once you begin to integrate balance by breaking up your day or your schedule, you’ll feel much lighter and a lot less stressed.

How to Create a Healthy Life Balance

Finding a healthy life balance is difficult but doable. Imagine standing on a thin piece of wood. In order to find balance, what do you do? You sway. Balance is about being flexible and changing your life according to the circumstances you find yourself in, not about confronting life with rigidity. To help you get started in finding your own life balance, here are a few tips and tricks.

1. Chart It Out

Creating a pie chart or some type of outline of your daily life can help you visualize where you spend your time. Decipher the areas in your day that could use some time-blocking or breaks. If you’re the type of person who works a nine-to-five job, or longer than that, a chart can help you see where you can pencil time in to meal prep, eat something healthy, or spend a few extra minutes with your family.

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A pie chart or an outline of your day can help you figure out where you need to step back and prioritize your health. Maybe in the evenings, if you’re not working, add in a twenty minute meditation or yoga to decompress and ease your mind. Go for a walk outside if you can, or do an activity outdoors.

2. Put Your Health First

Create another pie chart or outline and omit work completely. Instead, just shade it in with gray or black. In this pie chart, see where you can add extra time into your day, such as in the mornings, during your breaks, and in the evenings. Maybe consider rising earlier in the morning to cook a healthy breakfast.

This article may help you establish a healthy breakfast routine: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

Diet is a major contributor to your overall wellness and health. It can feel inconvenient to have to cook when you can zip into a drive-through somewhere and grab fast food. Make time in your day by finding ways to conserve your energy while at work so that when you get home, twenty minutes of cooking doesn’t sound so dreadful.

3. Consider Becoming a Morning Person

Becoming a morning person is an actionable step towards a healthy life balance.[3] If you’re waking up at the last minute, right before you’ve got to be out the door for work, you will likely start your day feeling rushed, burdened, and rattled. The best way to begin a new day is to ease into it by simply enjoying an hour or so of meditative silence as opposed to popping out of bed and running through your routine.

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When you ease into your day, you’ll feel more level-headed mentally and emotionally. Constantly rushing leaves you unsettled, and it will likely affect how you’re interacting with people. Stress comes on as a result of mismanagement of time. Morning people are much calmer, more effective in managing their jobs and work-life, and are more grateful in general.

Morning routines can be another tool for achieving balance. Creating a routine you enjoy and one that sets the tone for a positive day makes a tremendous difference.

4. Incorporate Moments for You

Whether you sit down for several hours at work or are on your feet a lot, it wouldn’t hurt to take a few minutes to relax or clear your mind during your busy days. A moment when work is slow or there isn’t much going on, give yourself brief water breaks or brisk walks through the office.

While at home, if you’re able, watch an inspiring movie or documentary or listen to a podcast and clean. Do something for an hour that feels like second nature to you. Don’t be afraid to accommodate and make time for yourself. Your mind and body will thank you.

5. Start With Small Habits

It takes about sixty to ninety days to form a healthy habit. To create more balance, try implementing small daily habits in the morning, afternoon, and evening. In the morning, make your bed and tidy up your room. In the afternoon, take a ten-minute catnap and give yourself an energy boost. Studies show that even the shortest catnap in the afternoon can increase your productivity and energy.

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Sleep deprivation can really impact your performance at work and in other areas of life. When I started taking afternoon naps, I felt more relaxed, confident, and very in tune with my surroundings. Taking a nap is a good example of a small, productive habit to include in your daily life. Others can include squeezing in a five-minute meditation, refusing to read work emails at home, or prepping your weekly meals on Sunday evenings. These can all be good ways to begin to establish a healthy life balance.

The Bottom Line

To work towards a healthy life balance, focus on adding simplicity and minimizing where you can. Pie charts and outlines are great ways to get a visual on areas in your day that need improvement or more attention.

An out-of-balance life can result in stress and rob you of joy. Being balanced means your priorities are in check, you are putting your health first, and you are succeeding in putting all areas of your life where you they need to be.

Featured photo credit: Cecilia Medina via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Nancy Lockwood: Work/Life Balance: Challenges and Solutions
[2] Innovative Higher Education: The Conundrum of Work-Life Balance
[3] HuffPost: 7 Things Morning People Do Differently

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Tessa Koller

Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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