Finding balance in your life may sometimes feel like an impossible task. You may have work commitments, family obligations, and what about your personal goals?
However, balance is necessary to manage life’s stresses. Otherwise you may find aspects of your life negatively impacted, including your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Balance in Life
The definition of balance is “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady,” and this definition is just as true metaphorically in our lives.
Weights may include work tasks, family duties, hobbies, physical health, and mental wellbeing. These weights vary from person to person. For example, a single university student will have very different tasks on her plate than a father of two in his forties. While more attention is given to work-life balance, many individuals are overworked and struggle to find balance.
The first step to finding balance in life is to recognize your needs and not to compare them to others. Everyone is fighting their own battles. Identifying and prioritizing what matters in your world will start you on your path to balance.
Balance, Burnout, and Well-being
Balance has an overarching impact not just on our productivity but on our mental, emotional, and even physical health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, “maintaining balance throughout our lives is a cornerstone of overall well-being. Balance prevents stress, and we all know stress causes adverse health effects and leads to 75-90% of all physician visits.”
Burnout from stress, both good and bad stressors, is a real concern. Licensed clinical social worker Tina Halliday of the Behavioral Sciences Manager at Huntsman Mental Health Institute explains:
“Burnout can cause you to lose a sense of balance in life and lose passion for your work. Burnout creates a vicious cycle of working harder to fix the situation, which contributes to exhaustion, withdrawal, depression, and anxiety, often leading people to rely on substances like alcohol or drugs to cope.”
While there may not seem like enough hours in the day, taking time to slow down and evaluate where your energy is being spent will do a great service for you and your family’s well-being. If balance is prioritized in your life, you can find time to prevent these adverse health effects and learn how to avoid burnout.
Prioritize and Schedule
When you’ve found the time to evaluate and prioritize what matters to you, figuring out a schedule for each task will help you organize a game plan. Planning ahead allows you to decide how to prioritize your tasks. Intentionally blocking out time and holding yourself to a schedule helps ensure that you’re not burning out on one task or ignoring another. You may just find yourself feeling empowered by your control over your schedule!
Some people use a planner religiously, while others diligently create to-do lists. Or a digital calendar with reminders may suit you the best. There’s no one right way to maintain a schedule, but taking the time to plan out what you can anticipate will help you be more self aware of where your time will be spent and then balance it accordingly.
Learn to Say No
Once you have a solid view of where you plan to dedicate your time, you’ll also very quickly see if you’ve over-committed yourself. You can only do so much, so learning to say no is an important life skill to learn. While it may be challenging at first, overtime you’ll get better at it, have less guilt, and see the benefits of spending your time where it matters most to you.
Start by saying no to things that don’t align with your values. These should go first, because they’re simply sucking away your precious time without helping you achieve your goals.
Next, you may have to make some hard choices, like choosing between helping a friend move or meeting a work deadline. It may be hard to say no to your friend, but there could be negative consequences if the deadline is missed. Again, it comes down to priorities.
Setting boundaries and expectations for those in your life will further help you to say no. When you stick to your convictions, others will notice and respect your time and your decisions.
Be Flexible and Kind to Yourself
Finally, remember that life happens. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect on day one, or ever. Finding balance is truly a balancing act that takes practice and time. Take small steps to evaluate what’s important to you, prioritize and schedule those tasks, and learn when you need to take a break or say no.