If I were to ask you, “Do you feel like your life is balanced? Most people would say no. When it comes to balancing out work with play, exertion with rest, and need with want, we humans are not very good at it, myself included. Most of us push ourselves to the point of exhaustion, and if we have any time or energy left, we might allow ourselves a few tiny slices of downtime. This practice is not healthy, and what leads many of us to burnout. So, I have been thinking a lot about how to create more balance in your life, and I came up with these ideas.
Identify Your “Joy Points”
First, you have to know what it is that makes you happy. What takes over and makes you feel joyful, and time just stops? For me, it’s listening to music. Whenever I listen to music, I feel better, no matter what is going on. I seem to forget this vital fact often, then days go by, and I start feeling stressed and busy, and when I do finally get around to listening to music again, this feeling comes over me, and I think, “I have to remember to listen to music more often!” So how do I do that?
The only way we will actually balance our lives, living in this crazy, overstressed, overworked world, is through prioritization. So along with your meetings, hair appointments, PTA meetings, soccer practice, etc. schedule in at least 10-15 minutes twice a day for you to do what YOU want. Put it on the calendar, seriously! Even if it means escaping to a closet and putting on headphones to listen to a little Adele. If you don’t prioritize it the same way you do the rest of your agenda items, it won’t happen.
Practice Balance and Get Better at It
Once you start forcing yourself to take regular breaks to read for a few minutes, listen to a podcast, take a walk, or do something just for you and no one else, you might find it addicting.
I was asked to listen to a podcast for research before writing some scripts, and I quickly became addicted! It was so fun. Now, I add to my schedule every day, 45 minutes, to sit and listen. I don’t multi-task during this downtime; it’s just for me. I also take a formal “lunch break” for about 15-20 minutes each day and play Angry Birds on my iPad while eating my nuts and chocolate snack. I also take a 30-minute bike ride each day and I meditate at least twice daily.
Again, this is balancing all the things I “should” be doing with something I really enjoy, and it makes all the difference. On a day where I don’t do this, I am more irritable and resentful at the end of the day. It’s because I did not prioritize me, and I put everything and everyone else ahead of my fun time.
I know what you are thinking, boy, that is an awful lot of downtime during a day. But what is balance? It shouldn’t be 95% work and 5% me time. The point is to have “equal” time for me and for the rest of the world.
Embrace Joy as Your Default
If there are things in your schedule or routine that don’t bring you joy or that you outright hate, remove them. It is not worth any amount of money to continue doing something that brings you pain and suffering. We have only a short time in life to find what we enjoy and then embrace it. Make joy your default setting. If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it, or change it.
One reason many people are out of shape or unhealthy is they don’t prioritize exercise. Build in a walk, bike ride, or yoga each day. I take a 30-minute bike ride every morning, no matter how busy I am. The rest of the day can wait while I do something very important to me and my health.
Leave the Guilt Behind
So, as you start to do this, you may feel guilty. I sometimes do. That is funny since I work for myself. But I think it’s ingrained in many of us to work all day and that play, and relaxation is bad, so we feel guilt when we take time for ourselves. That is something you will have to work through. You can use the Tapping Solution app or another method to rid yourself of the guilt because creating more balance in your life is well worth it!