I call them “women’s inadequacy magazines.” You see them, or maybe buy some, at the grocery store checkout line. I’m referring to the publications that declare you can lose 10 lbs. in a week, positioned next to an easy-bake fat chocolate cake, along with the perfect Hollywood couple celebrating two years of ecstasy. Message: do this, buy this, emulate this and you will have it all… balance, bliss and a stress-free life. And those messages are conveyed throughout all forms of media.
So, it’s not surprising that many people ask me about life balance. Intense, stressful jobs that require 50+ hours a week, kids, family, community activities and the list goes on. Seeking balance may be aggravated by observing friends and colleagues who seem to have it all together, all of the time. If you compare yourself to them it may conjure up feelings of inadequacy. In reality, no one has a perfect life. However, there are some strategies to practice that you may find helpful. Let me share five tips to help you achieve greater life balance.
- TAKE OXYGEN FIRST. Recall when you are on a flight, the instructions to take oxygen first before helping others. That must be the life plan! When you wake, please, please take care of yourself before anyone else. Meditate, exercise, pray, whatever feels good and important to you. When my kids were young I had to meditate and run early in the morning because I never knew what the work/family day would bring. I consistently rose at 5 a.m. to meditate, stretch and warm up before a 5:30 run. Back at the corral by 6:15 and in the shower. Breakfast table always set the night before so we were ready to go when the troops arose at 6:30. That rigor is now history but I still have a dedicated morning routine for ME.
- WHAT MATTERS MOST? 1660 minutes in the day and each of us is accountable and responsible for how we use them. How many of those minutes do you savor and how many do you give away? I suggest you keep a journal for two weeks on how you spend your 1660. Decide how much you are giving away and how much you need to recapture. It’s YOUR TIME!
- JUST SAY NO! Evaluate whether or not you want or need to accommodate every appeal that is made of your time. Say no to those requests in which you don’t want to participate. Refrain from giving a reason. A simple reply is, “thanks for asking but I’m not available to help.” No excuses offered. You may find this a very liberating practice.
- What are your ingrained interests/beliefs? Recently a client told me of finding watercolor painting a new-found passion which reduces stress and gives her balance. She paints early in the morning, after meditation. A friend tells me of teaching herself piano and her new-found stress release at age 54. No matter age or circumstances, FIND IT!
- THE WORST THING? Whether it’s taking care of yourself first, saying no, trying a new hobby or something else, what is the worst thing that can happen? Perhaps a friend who is disgruntled over your assertiveness at saying no, someone unhappy that you take time for balance? True friends and loving family will get over it and maybe learn from your example.
I am curious about what you do to create life balance and minimize stress. Please consider sharing your tips and practices in a reply to this blog.
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