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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 March 17, 2021

How to Start Living in the Moment and Stop Worrying

How to Start Living in the Moment and Stop Worrying

We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the present when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or planning for the future?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of learning how to live in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Living in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present in the moment can also improve psychological well-being[1].

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them is extremely difficult. How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions when you are living in the moment. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

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3 Steps to Start Living in the Moment

Follow these simple steps for more balance and clarity.

1. Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, you need to do two things:

Calm Your Mind

When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

2. Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

If you find that you’re easily distracted, you can begin to tackle this with lifehack’s Free Guide: End Distraction and Find Your Focus.

Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So, how do most people cope with painful emotions? By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born until the time we die, our body and mind are actively performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy, which does nothing to help us learn how be present.

3. Practice Mindfulness

How can we start living in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

What Is Mindfulness?

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day, and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here are some breathing exercises you can try to learn to help you: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking, but are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Live in the present with mindful eating.

    Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

    So, how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

    • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
    • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
    • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

    You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

    Mindful Activities

    Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

    Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

    You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

    Final Thoughts

    Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness as you start living in the moment. 

    Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

    The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. 

    More About Living in the Moment

    Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

    Reference

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