Do any of you struggle with balance? If so, can you pinpoint what exactly takes up a disproportionate amount of your time? If you feel comfortable, please share in the comments so all of us GATLUW readers can have fruitful discussion!
I’m assuming everyone reading this has an understanding of the word balance in general. However, from a mental health perspective, balance is the ability to manage time for oneself, for others, and for work equally. If one of those dominates a person’s time, that person may become stressed out, or even mentally or physically ill. So let’s dive into the following questions: why do people lose balance in their life, and how can we strike a balance?
Why do people have trouble with balance in their life?
In figuring out a lack of balance in life, we have to understand what a balanced life consists of. According to UCHealth, a balanced life consists of the following:
- Creating social and emotional boundaries, and learning how to say no!
- Setting manageable goals
- Taking care of yourself; but don’t be too restrictive, either!
Do these sound like faraway, unreachable aspirations? If so, you’re in a bit of a pickle. Not to mention, you’re already violating one of the main rules (setting up manageable goals)! However, you’re in luck. We will work through developing and maintaining a sense of balance together here!
I know personally, I have a problem saying no and setting up boundaries with people. I also can work myself too hard; thankfully since quarantine started, this specific issue has let up. When one aspect of life is out of whack, it tends to spill into the others. For me, that means that my struggle with boundaries has taken time away from self-care and sometimes even sleep. I am trying to work on these, especially while I have much more time to do so. Since being laid off one job and being off for the summer with the teaching job I still have, let’s just say I’ve had lots of time to consider my own personal struggles and shortcomings.
Benefits of Balance
Finding balance is good for you; great. But so what?
Before getting into the how-to’s of creating balance in life, let’s take a look at why this balance is so important:
According to BHLive Active‘s article, there are some general benefits to having balance in life:
- Balance can help reduce stress.
- Balance can improve well-being in general.
- Balance can help mitigate depression and improve mood.
- Balance can increase energy levels.
As the world of work changes thanks to vast progressions in technology, we are seeing the negative impacts of working too much like never before. Overworking causes chronic stress, which can lead to mental and physical ailments. With this in mind, employers are looking to create healthier work environments for their employees, so as to prevent them from becoming physically or mentally ill. Work-life balance, or life balance as I like to call it, is becoming a critical aspect of leading a healthy life. If we want to do our best and achieve our dreams, we need to strive to maintain balance. The saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” should be cancelled!
How can we develop and maintain a sense of balance in our lives?
The thing about balance, according to this man’s story on Psychology Today, is that the idea of “working toward balance” isn’t the right frame of mind. Rather, finding balance is a state of mind; it’s not racing to the finish line, but how we actually run the race. The author of this piece claims that because life keeps moving, and it is inevitably going to throw curve-balls, one must keep moving in order to maintain balance. He also says that balance is not constant. If life feels out of balance during hectic times, it’s OK! We’re all only human.
Mental Health America breaks down how to create balance in work and home life more specifically:
Developing & Maintaining Balance at Work:
- Make a “To-Do” list at work every day that is prioritized in an efficient way, and make sure it is manageable.
- Avoid procrastinating; divide work into smaller, more manageable tasks to prevent overwhelm.
- Take breaks occasionally.
- If your job allows flexible hours and/or working from home benefits, try them out and see if they work for you.
- If you like listening to music while you work, put on your headphones! If you aren’t sure, maybe give it a go; studies have shown that listening to music while working may make you more productive.
- Communicate well. Be honest and clear with what you say, and be open to suggestions or constructive criticism when the occasion arises.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake, you’re not a superhero or a robot. Just do the best you can.
Developing & Maintaining Balance at Home:
- Divide tasks between roommates or family members so as to create structure and prevent overwhelm.
- Lean on your support systems when necessary.
- If you need more than just moral support from friends and family, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
- Find out if your company has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). If so, maximize it! It can simplify certain aspects of home life as well.
- Truly assess your current situation and priorities, and make adjustments where necessary.
- When making adjustments, determine if these are doable in the short-term or not. If not, make sure these changes are categorized as “long-term changes”. Otherwise, you might get overwhelmed!
- Speaking of short and long-term, create short and long-term goals for yourself. Include any of the adjustments here, and add any other goals you aspire to achieve here as well.
- Be as specific as possible with these goals and adjustments. Specificity will help you realize your goals and lifestyle adjustments more efficiently.
- Be willing to take risks!
- Take a break every once in a while.
- Embrace a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoid negativity in any and all capacities when possible.
- If possible, work with someone else to practice and maintain balance.
- Unplug on weekends.
- Say no as often as possible – only say yes to things you absolutely have to do or things that make you truly happy.
- Carve out alone time.
- Set quality time aside for your relationships.
- Explore as much as possible; expanding your mind will help you garner a better understanding of balance, and it may lead you to new passions and aspirations.
- Remember to have fun sometimes too!
Psychology Today‘s article states that “balance is not a final goal, but an ongoing process”. Every single one of these steps requires a continuous effort. Nothing in life that matters can be accomplished once, and without any updating.
For example, living a healthy life: if we were to eat right, drink lots of water, exercise regularly, and sleep well for a few months, would we be set for the rest of our days? Absolutely not! How about our relationships: can we just be nice to people once and expect them to be lifelong friends? Nope.
Balance follows the same idea. The “work” to find and maintain balance is never done. Including some of these tactics into our lives will help us get there, but they will not stay if one day we decide that we’ve done it for long enough. In the long-run, these changes may make us happier, healthier, and more successful in whatever we decide to do. This is a lifelong journey, and we all will fall off at times. And that’s OK! That’s to be expected. However, these tips may help us create a structure for ourselves that will allow us to pick ourselves back up when those hiccups pop up. I am looking forward to incorporating these into my life and seeing the positive changes fall into place!
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend! Much love to you all.
Clare Stopher is a part-time blogger writing about her physical and mental health journey with autoimmune disease. After years of having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, she realized that many people suffer from autoimmunity, yet there aren’t many people speaking up or writing about it. One day, she hopes to eventually have a YouTube channel and nutrition coaching qualifications to better support these individuals throughout their health journey. You can visit her site at www.clarestopher.com.