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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

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 January 18, 2021

How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better

How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “If I only had (fill in the blank), I wouldn’t have to worry anymore”? It’s hard to overcome those deeply ingrained beliefs around stressors in life.

“You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” -Wayne Dyer

We all have stressors in life, things we worry about that keep us awake at night. Everyone experiences stress due to life events, but chronic stress can compromise our health. It can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Stress can even weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to illnesses.

In this article, I am going to discuss the 5 most common stressors in life[1], and give you some suggestions for dealing with them more effectively, so you can live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

1. Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is the most common stressor in life for many people. It can come from tensions with co-workers or a boss, work overload, or simply the nature of the work, such as law enforcement. Whatever the case, there are things you can do to reduce the stress.

Here are some effective strategies.[2]

Start Your Day Off Right

Many of us are stressed out before we even arrive at work. We may have children to get ready and off to school, other responsibilities to tend to, and traffic with angry drivers to deal with.

Start your day off right by getting up early enough to take care of your responsibilities, eat properly, and cultivate a positive attitude. This reduces the likelihood of feeling all out of sorts when you arrive at work.

Know Exactly What Is Expected of You

Many of us are not entirely clear about what our boss expects from us. This usually happens in smaller companies that may not be as organized as larger companies. It’s important to know what’s expected of you, so you can avoid unnecessary tensions.

Communication is the key to avoiding this type of conflict. If you’re not sure what your boss expects of you, there is nothing wrong with asking your boss to clarify his requirements. In fact, it demonstrates that you are conscientious and sincerely interested in doing a good job, which your boss will appreciate.

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Stay Organized

A disorganized work environment creates a great deal of stress and negatively affects your mental health. You always feel rushed because you’re not sure where things are, you misjudge the time required to perform tasks, and you’re not clear on your goals and objectives.

To reduce stress, organize your work environment a little. Start by organizing your work area, so you can easily find your tools and papers.

Then, organize your time by determining how long it should take you to perform certain tasks, and try to dedicate the necessary time and avoid unnecessary distractions.

Forget multitasking, as the efficiencies of multitasking are a myth. Studies have shown that people are more productive when they focus on one task at a time.

Stay Away From Unnecessary Conflict

Much of the day-to-day conflict at work is unavoidable. Each person has his/her own responsibilities, which may conflict with those of others. However, workplace drama is unnecessary and counterproductive.

The best thing to do is to avoid this kind of conflict and stressful events and save yourself the aggravation and stress. Treat everyone with respect, avoid gossip, and avoid sensitive topics like politics and religion.

With conflicts in responsibilities, a good strategy for dealing with them is to communicate your goals and objectives when they seem to conflict with those of co-workers. Remember, you’re all on the same team trying to achieve the goals of the company.

2. Financial Stress

Finances are another of the common stressors in life. We worry about paying the rent, a mortgage, car loans, utilities, and food. We also worry about our investments, especially if we’re nearing retirement.

You may think that simply having more money will take away these worries, but that isn’t necessarily so. Even wealthy people worry about finances.

Here are some suggestions for reducing financial stress.[3]

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Live Within Your Means

One of the biggest mistakes people make is spending more money than they have. Credit card companies are quick to give you credit cards with high interest rates, so it’s easy to overextend yourself.

To avoid this mistake, keep track of your finances, and avoid the temptation to buy things you can’t afford. Set some money aside for unexpected expenses, such as car or home repairs. It’s a good idea to put money in a savings account every month, even if it’s a small amount.

Educate Yourself on Finances

For those of you who do not have a background in finance, handling money responsibly can be a challenge. Professional football players were notorious for making millions during their short careers, and then ending up broke when they could no longer play[4].

Now the NFL gives rookie players a course in financial management so that they invest their money wisely. This is a good strategy for everyone. Some important things to learn are:

  • Managing a checking a account
  • Using credit cards wisely
  • Borrowing money
  • Making large purchases (home, car)
  • Investing for retirement

Learning basic finances isn’t all that complicated. Once you have some understanding of finances, you can avoid the stress that comes from the unknown.

Ask for Help

If you feel lost or unsure about making financial decisions, it’s ok to ask someone for help. Make sure it’s someone you trust, as there are many unscrupulous people eager to take advantage of others.

I would suggest consulting a loved one or a trusted friend. Parents are a great resource, as well. Learn from their mistakes, instead of yours.

3. Health-Related Stress

For many people, health problems like illness and injury are some of the biggest stressors in life. This is more common when we get older, when our body begins to decline. When we’re young, we’re more resilient, and we can recover much more quickly from injuries and illnesses.

Experiencing an illness is frightening because, until we get it diagnosed and treated, we usually don’t know what is happening to our body, or if we will recover. However, there are things we can do to reduce the stress associated with health issues.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

The approach I’ve taken to reduce health-related stress is to avoid poor health as much as possible. Since I was in my early 20s, I’ve tried to live a healthy lifestyle. I’ve eaten healthy foods, and in moderation. I’ve also exercised regularly and maintained an active lifestyle, so I’ve never been overweight.

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I’ve also avoided abusing my body with risky activities. For example, when I was younger I was involved in bodybuilding in order to stay in shape. I wanted to compete, but I realized that would entail taking training and supplementation to an extreme that would compromise my good health, which I wasn’t willing to do.

Know Your Risks

Many of us have certain risk factors that are unique to each of us. Some may be genetic, such as diabetes, heart disease, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, or cancer. Whatever the case, learn your family history of health issues.

It’s important to talk to your parents. Sometimes they don’t want to talk about sensitive issues, but it’s necessary for your good health.

4. Relationship Stress

Relationships are one of the greatest stressors in life, especially for younger people. We usually aren’t explicitly taught how to have good, healthy relationships. This is something we learn through experience and a lot of heartache, which can lead to having a stressful life for a long time.

When we’re inexperienced with relationships, we usually let our emotions make our decisions for us. We get involved with people that we’re not compatible with, but who we care for deeply. If we’re not compatible, then we engage in power struggles, each person trying to exert his or her will in the relationship. This leads to a lot of stress because we feel like we lack control.

Communicate

One of the keys to less stressful relationships is communication. It’s important to be open about how we feel and what we’re looking for in the relationship. Sometimes you can work things out, and sometimes you can’t. If you can’t, then you need to move on before each of you has too much invested in the relationship, which makes it harder to end later.

Practice Maturity

Another key to less stressful relationships is maturity. It takes wisdom and mature emotions to not create unnecessary conflict and drama. These take time and experience to develop, but by being aware of how you’re acting, you can begin to learn these skills.

5. Poor Nutrition

Another stressor in life is poor nutrition. Most of us are not fully aware of how the things we consume can raise our stress level. Here are a few examples[5]:

  • Drinking Too Much Coffee: While coffee has many benefits, too much can increase stress by raising the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Eating Foods That Increase Cortisol Levels: There are other foods that raise your cortisol levels, such as refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, red meats, fried foods, and other foods high in fat.
  • Skipping Meals: In addition to providing us with the proper nutrients to maintain good health, stopping to eat gives us a break from our busy day, which allows us to relax and de-stress.
  • Not Drinking Water: Our body needs water to function properly, and stopping to take a drink gives us a short break.
  • Eating Compulsively: We sometimes eat as a reaction to stress, and we usually make poor choices of what to eat when this happens.

Educate Yourself on Basic Health and Nutrition

You can eliminate a lot of health related stress by knowing what is happening in your body. Nowadays, there is a wealth of good information on the Internet about almost every health issue you can think of.

In order to live a healthy lifestyle, you don’t have to follow such a strict diet and exercise regimen. Mainly eat foods that are healthy, in smaller meals, and more often. Also, try to stay physically active.

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Keep in mind that healthy food isn’t necessarily bland and tasteless. I eat lots of delicious foods and desserts. And by staying physically active, I eat as much as I want without gaining any weight, even as I’ve gotten older, and so can you.

Meditation

When it comes to dealing with stressors in life, mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool.

Meditation doesn’t necessarily solve your problems, but it does enable you deal with them much better. In addition, it calms your mind, which leads to calmer emotions.

Mindfulness meditation is easy to practice, and you don’t have to meditate for long periods to get the benefits. If you’re new to meditation, just sit quietly for 5-10 minutes following your breath. Do this several times a week, and you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel, and you won’t react so much to things that trigger your fears, anger, or anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Most of us long for peace and tranquility in our lives. When we’re young, we tend to think that once we get or achieve certain things, we’ll be able to relax. Those of you who are middle age or older have probably realized the fallacy of this way of thinking.

“By changing your attitude, you also change your perspective and change your life.” -Roy Bennett

We all have stressors in life, things that cause us to worry about our future. That’s natural, but it is the unpredictable nature of the stressors that make us feel insecure and not in control.

However, it’s not really those things that cause us the stress, but rather how we view them. Therefore, if you want to lower your stress level, you need to change the way you mentally process the circumstances in your life. To accomplish this, you basically need to do three things:

  1. Choose wisely the things that are truly important in your life.
  2. Arm yourself with information about your stressors, so you have more control over your future.
  3. Learn to live with the remaining uncertainty.

If you can do these three things, then you can enjoy your life to the greatest extent possible.

More Tips on Handling Stress

Featured photo credit: Ivan Aleksic via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: What Is Stress?
[2] Very Well Mind: 9 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress at Work
[3] American Psychological Association: Dealing with Financial Stress
[4] Forbes: NFL Players Need A Playbook When Managing Their Financial Future
[5] Exploring Your Mind: Stress and Poor Nutrition

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