Advertising
Advertising

7 Ways To Stay Balanced And Happy Even When You’re Extremely Busy

7 Ways To Stay Balanced And Happy Even When You’re Extremely Busy

People are living busier and busier lives these days, taking on more and more with every passing month‒more work commitments, relationship commitments, family commitments, social commitments, the list goes on… therefore staying happy and relatively balanced seems a task of Sisyphus (the man in mythology who rolled a boulder up a mountain every day only for it to roll back down to the bottom at the end of the day), i.e. impossible.

Is it impossible to be balanced and happy when you’ve got a hell of a workload? No. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tricky tightrope act to master, but don’t worry‒plenty of people have their own ways for achieving everything they need to do and still have time for everything they want to do in life. This is the art of life-balance. Here are just seven of the best tips that I heartily recommend if you’re stuck looking for how to keep your balance and be happy at the same time..

1. Check your necessary needs.

Let’s get down to basics–if you want to stay balanced and happy, you need to make sure all of your basic needs are being met. Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter finishing up work or a project can tell you that while the sense of accomplishment remains, you physically feel a wreck and you can barely keep your eyes open unless you have an intravenous drip of coffee somewhere about your position.

Advertising

You should make sure you get enough sleep every night, that your diet has plenty of healthy, balanced food, and that your work is not completely taking over your life to the point of exhaustion, both physically and mentally, and you should make sure that even when you’re busy, you stay balanced by making sure your basic human needs are being met.

2. Plan ahead as much as you can.

One way to ensure that you have everything under control, minimizing the chances for missing something and throwing your busy day off course, is to plan everything you possibly can. People can plan things however they want–there are plenty of to-do list and organization apps on every kind of smartphone platform possible, or a good old pen and paper works well too (I use both).

I mean, it’s impossible to control everything, but in the end, making sure you have a list of everything you need to do, obtain, and achieve by the end of the day will make sure that going about your day, no matter how busy, will give you a reminder of everything that not only you need to complete, but what you have already successful achieved.

Advertising

3. Stay fed and stay hydrated.

This all seems like such basic stuff, but one way to make sure you stay happy and balanced throughout every instance of being busy is to keep up a solid eating and drinking routine. That’s not to say you should only stick to the same thing day in, day out, or even that you shouldn’t indulge on a daily basis (in fact: go for it, but in moderation); rather, I am simply proposing making sure you have three decent meals a day.

This is for the generation of people–myself included–who see something hot from Starbucks as a nutritious breakfast; coffee may motivate you for a little while, but then you’ll crash pretty damn hard. Make sure you drink plenty of water too; dehydration is the last thing you need on a busy day, and water also has the benefits of flushing out the kidneys and making the skin better, so that if an important meeting with a client is on your agenda, then looking your tip-top best is something we cannot help but advocate.

4. Keep an eye on your emotions.

There are some times when we’re running late or just generally having a bad day, when our emotions begin to spiral out of control. Anger escalates, stress skyrockets, anxiety soars. Our handle on our emotional experiences can drop and make us act extremely out of character, often to the detriment of our loved ones. We snap, we yell, and we lose our true selves when we’re under huge amounts of pressure.

Advertising

So what can be done to change this? After all, it doesn’t do to be snapping at friends and family. So how about keeping an eye on your emotions throughout the day, say every half an hour. Stop, see how you’re feeling, and then see if something needs to be done. Maybe make a mental visual picture of traffic lights; if things are all okay, see green lights; if they’re not, then use amber or red, so that you can realize what’s happening and then regulate those emotions. Take deep breaths, centre yourself, and then move on with your day.

5. Make time for yourself.

No matter what you go through in your day-to-day life, one of the best ways to stay balanced and maintain a feeling of happiness is to schedule in plenty of pockets of ‘me time’. Rather than rushing around and then trying to gain some kind of peace and serenity at the end of the day, it is better to carve out segments of time throughout your working day.

Ensure that you actually take time with lunch and it’s not on the move or at your desk. Spend five minutes at the beginning of your day with some breathing exercises. Make sure your shower or bath at the end of the day is spent without mobile phones, email, or anything more taxing than some relaxing music or a good book. Make sure that treating yourself and ensuring some relaxation time are spread throughout the day at scheduled intervals–they’ll allow you some breathing room, a chance to clear your head and reassess the situations you’ve been in at work, and allow your mind to be at its best.

Advertising

6. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

In this modern age, we’re expected more and more to take on more and more–it doesn’t matter that we’re already juggling impossible expectations, work, dealing with pressures of family, friends and social media; we always seem to find more and more stuff piled on our proverbial plate. My advice, in order to keep your sanity, is to therefore keep your load to a minimum amount.

There are, obviously, going to be commitments that you will not be able to shed–work, family, friends–but don’t go signing yourself up for extra projects and events that will take up more time than you’re secretly okay with sacrificing. Saying no doesn’t mean that you’re giving up, it means you’re selecting and dividing up boundaries, which is not a bad thing and will prove conducive to keeping your balance in check.

7. Learn your human limitations.

This final tip works particularly well in the wake of the New Year where everyone is making big resolutions that usually fall flat by the end of the first month–but let’s be realistic, all of us. When you’ve got a big day ahead, one teeming with errands and possibilities and commitments, it will make you much happier and more balanced.

You’re not a superhuman. You cannot fit more hours into the day, and if you’re following all the tips I’m offering, you’ll be getting plenty of sleep and personal time anyway. You’re a flawed, fantastic human being, so going around like a thing possessed trying to get everything done in the span of a few hours is not only unrealistic, it also suggests that you need to sit down and reconsider what’s important in your life. Staying balanced and staying happy are not impossible when you happen to be living a busy life. Sure, they require a bit of planning and contemplating about your life and what’s important, but implementing these tips might be able to help add some center to your life.

Good luck.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

Not Enough Time? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Minute Count I Hate My Life: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Stop Hating Life Don’t Panic! 5 Things To Do When You’ve Messed Up 20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier 8 Signs It’s Time To End The Relationship

Trending in Communication

1 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 2 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 3 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day 4 What Is the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Living With Meaning 5 How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

Advertising

I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

Advertising

I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

Advertising

Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

Advertising

Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

Read Next