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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance

How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance
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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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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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