Balance. . .
Do you want to achieve a balanced life, but are not sure where to start? The focus here is often on work life balance. And with good reason. The Mental Health foundation found a staggering 40 per cent of those surveyed neglected other parts of their life because of work. And nearly two thirds of workers reported that too much time at work had led to lack of personal development, physical and mental health problems, and poor relationships and poor home life.
There’s more to balance than just the workplace. Spending too much time at work is not the only way we can be out of balance. We can also be obsessed with relationships to the exclusion of all else. Or spending so much time socializing our career never progresses. We can even be so over focussed with our spiritual advancement or we are neglecting our physical health. It really doesn’t matter what area of life it is, if it is dominating all others, it’s a red flag.
The signs your life is out of balance:
- constantly tired and/or sick
- anxious and worried most days
- your sleep pattern is erratic
- you always put things off, like goals, dreams, hobbies
- self care comes last, including exercise and eating habits
- friends and family have complained you need more balance.
There is no one exact way to have a balanced life. We all have different priorities and different things that make us feel energized. It’s important not to compare yourself to others when it comes to having a balanced life. Just because your friend does yoga every day or goes on many retreats does not mean this will work for you. Take the time to connect with what matters to you. Journalling can be useful here. Ask good questions such as:
- What is my ideal life?
- What twenty things make me feel good and energized?
- What are the things that most deplete me?< • When in my life did I feel most myself?
- What places and people do I feel most balanced around?
The most important ingredient of a perfect life balance is knowing your personal values. These are the things that deeply matter to you. We tend to feel good in life when we are making decisions aligned with our values. The problem comes when we are doing things based on values we think we have, or think we should have. We might be trying to be like our friends, or trying to impress our family. The result tends to be that we are feel out of balance and discontent. To create a balanced life we need to get honest about where our life is not in balance. This means looking at all areas of life, including those you tend to avoid. You can find many different formats for creating a life snapshot, such as the ‘wheel of life’ used by coaches. Or you can create your own categories, such as:
- family and home
- travel and adventure
- physical health
- mental health
- social life
- spiritual life
- life goals
Once you’ve divided your life into categories that have all areas covered and make sense to you? Ask good questions about each section.
- If you had to rank each area of your life as balanced or unbalanced, what side would each area fall in?
- Are you happy with the way things are going?
- What would you like to change in each area?
- Which areas do you need help in?
Do you lack boundaries? Is your life always out of balance no matter how hard you try? One of the main reasons that life balance is difficult tends to be a problem setting boundaries. This means you struggle to say no to others, do things you don’t really like, and put others needs before our own. Does saying no to others or setting limits leave your frozen with fear? It’s likely your problem with boundaries stems from childhood. Parents who demanded we be good, quiet, happy children all the time means we develop the belief that thinking of ourselves and our own needs is selfish. We fear being rejected and not liked. Childhood trauma also creates boundary issues.
Yes, things like a poor work-life balance lead to mental health problems. But in some cases, mental health problems are the thing that came first that stop us from having life balance. It is hard to keep our life in balance if we are suffering from depression, anxiety, or sleep issues. Addictions are a major block to life balance. This can include relationship addiction, as well as addictions to food, alcohol, exercise, and overspending. Can’t find life balance? You might first need to find some support to build your self-esteem and self care. Try meditation and look deeply into your life. Of course never be ashamed or shy of seeking help. A coach, counsellor, or therapist can help you get to the bottom of what is upsetting you.
Peace and Love, Jim