What does balance even mean? I feel like you hear every other person talking about finding a healthy balance these days. Whether it’s a work - life balance, a balance in your diet, balancing hobbies… what is this elusive balance and how can we find it?
A key thing to understand is that balance will be different for everybody. Just because your friend can work 60-hour weeks and still find time for the gym, family and yoga doesn’t mean you can too. Finding that happy medium where you have time for everything you want and need to do in your life without feeling stressed about it, I guess is what we can deem as balance.
Why should we find balance?
Having some balance in your life shouldn’t be just some aspirational thing that only happens in your dream world. It should be something we strive for to improve both mental and physical health. Have you ever felt yourself becoming exhausted and burned out? Maybe you have found that you fall ill when you are stressed, or when you are trying to run around and fit in a million things at one time. This is imbalance and can have huge detrimental effects on your immunity, gut health, sleep, relationships… The list goes on.
But how can I find a balance when I have so much going on in my world?
It’s all well and good talking about finding balance, but if we can’t put it into practice then it’s as useless as a that gym membership you paid for but never use. The first step to creating you balance, is to write down EVERYTHING you have going on in your life. Include things to NEED to do, and also things you WANT to do. Separate them into lists so that you can clearly differentiate between them. Include absolutely everything you can think of… work, exercise, hobbies, socialising, doing the school run, even things like cleaning the house and doing the food shop should be on there!
Once you have your lists, assign time for everything. Try to find regular slots that will work every week for most things – this will make it easier to create long lasting habits and to make finding your balance easy. And don’t just schedule in your NEED list, make sure you have assigned time for your WANT list too, and that you have assigned some time at least once a week to just relax and do very little. This is crucial for avoiding burnout and ensuring both your mental and physical health don’t take a hit.
On weeks where you’re super busy, decide on a couple of things that you can either get rid of or delegate. Maybe a partner could do the food shop for you. Maybe you could spend some time the previous week cooking dinners to freeze to save time on a manic week. However, make sure you do still schedule in time for your WANT list and definitely schedule in your relaxation time. Whether that’s an hour spend reading a book, taking a bath, being out in the garden, whatever relaxation is for you but make sure that time is your own.
Make it easier for yourself
Make space for different activities. If you work from home, find some space that isn’t the kitchen table or the sofa. You will be much more productive if you have a distraction-free dedicated work space, and it will help you to switch off from work when you are done for the day. Likewise, create your relaxation space that isn’t a hectic or work-related part of the house, where you can focus on yourself and nothing else.
Writing everything down has a certain power over us; you are much more likely to stick to plans written down as opposed to ones made just in your head. Take the time each week to write and plan for the week ahead, and if something changes, simply re-plan and write down alternatives. It might seem over the top to start with scheduling things like cleaning the house and reading a book, but it is the key to creating long term habits and finding that balance that works for you no matter what life throws your way.
Balance isn’t easy to find, and it may take a little while to find your balance. But when you do, you will find that you are so much more productive, positive and everything becomes a little more manageable.