10 ways to maintain a balanced life
What do I mean by balance and why is it so important?
When talking about balance in life, I mean a healthy mix of work, play, time for relationships with your family, partner and friends and of course looking after your health. Striving for balance is important because there are many aspects of us that need different things in life. We need personal relationships and closeness, we need good health to do all of the things in life that we want to do, we need to work to earn money and to pay the bills. We also need some satisfaction and fulfilment from life - a sense of purpose, which we may get from our career or from activities we do outside of work. We need to have fun too; otherwise our ‘inner child’ can start to get fed up!
The main three areas we struggle to find balance in are:
- Between work and play.
- Between what others need from us versus what we need for ourselves.
- Between what we want immediately (short-term gratification) and what we need (long-term happiness).
Here are some tips on how to achieve balance
1. Your schedule should contain a healthy mixture of activities and not just work, work, work! Allow time in your weekly plan for having fun and for spending time with the people who matter to you as well as for your career aspirations. Taking time each week for relaxation, hobbies you enjoy and social time will recharge your batteries and make you even more effective at work in the long term. I recommend actually writing these things into your diary or planner - that way you are more likely to do them.
2. You can do anything but not everything at once. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There’s a difference between pushing yourself and becoming overwhelmed with too many projects at once. Be mindful of how much you’re taking on. Decide what your priority is right now and avoid involving yourself in too many activities at the same time.
3. Just say no! If you know you have a busy period ahead, don’t commit to anything else until the time has passed and you have the space in your calendar and the energy to start something else. This applies to socialising and projects as well as work.
4. Know yourself and listen to the signs your body and stress levels give you when you need to slow down or maybe make healthier choices. Know what your body and mind need to stay in balance.
5. Be flexible to change, expect obstacles from time to time, and learn to deal with them as part of life. Try not to stress if every little detail doesn’t go exactly as you’d imagined and planned. In the grand scheme of things, ask yourself, ‘Does it really matter?’ and adjust your plan accordingly.
6. A change is as good as a rest. Learning new things, visiting a place you’ve never been to or broadening your horizons often can keep your mind stimulated and you motivated. Regularly stepping out of your comfort zone, even if just in a small way, ensures your continual personal growth.
7. Your health is your wealth, so you must take care of it! We often take for granted that our bodies and minds will just always function no matter what lifestyle choices we make. But if we make unhealthy choices for long enough, we’ll become depleted and rundown, and we then have no choice but to stop. Generally, the body needs good nutrition from a balanced diet, enough hydration, adequate rest and sleep and regular exercise to function at its best.
8. Someone once said, ‘Take time to stop and smell the roses’. This is good advice. Make sure you take time to enjoy the simple things in life, like a beautiful flower or sunset. We’re so often in such a hurry that we miss the pure beauty of nature.
9. Take a holiday! Make sure you book breaks away from your work as regularly as you can. Even if it’s a small break, the change of pace and scenery will refresh you and help keep you motivated.
10. Remember that balance is something to strive for but don't beat yourself up if you don't always achieve it - life goes like this sometimes.
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