How do you find balance in a culture of extremes?

How do youLately I’ve been curious. How do people do it? How do people manage to balance everything they’re involved in: family, career, health, social life, hobbies, personal growth and self-care?  How do you know when you’re out of balance?

Up until very recently, I found it nearly impossible to feel balanced in my life. I was working a full time job and building a business on the side, which often required 20-30 hours of my time per week on nights and weekends.

Americans are working more than ever right now; more than any other country in the industrialized world. On average, we are working 47 hours per week (which actually seems low). This leaves very little time for all things fun and self-care.

It came to a tipping point when I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was going to explode. (In fact, I did, you can read about my explosion here.) I realized that my sanity was more important. I asked my boss if I could work less at my full-time job. I was astonished that my employer was happy to accommodate my needs, and I was offered the same health benefits as I was receiving at full-time working 24-hours per week.  My work load at this job lessened and the amount of stress I experienced was cut in half.

I felt more balanced, less stressed, and more optimistic in general. I continue to re-work my schedule and evaluate my stress levels. In an effort to share what I’ve learned through my own imbalances, I came up with 4 ideas to help you find more balance in your life.

Make a schedule for time off.  Maybe you already do this! Or, maybe you only take time off when you’re burned out or sick. Sound familiar? Solution: every 3 months, take 5 days off in-a-row.  This would equal 4 vacations per year or 1 month off per year.  Place as much importance on your time away from the office as your time in the office. That’s how we create a balance.

Take care of yourself every single day.  Start by doing one small thing everyday that helps you relax, re-center and lighten your mood. Imagine how great your life could be?  Beyond what you can do each day, what could you do each week, month, and year that would help? For example, maybe once a year you take a new class that inspires your creativity.  Maybe each month you get a massage, and once a week you go for a hike.  Think of what makes you happiest and plug those happy experiences into your daily life. Balance work with play and place a higher importance on self-care.

Reflect. Journaling is a powerful tool to create change. I highly recommend taking notes on how you’re feeling, what’s contributing to your happiness, and what’s contributing to your stress. Hand writing is cathartic so it helps relieve stress right then and there. I use writing as a way to release; an outlet to discharge thoughts I no longer want to control my mood. It’s the cheapest therapy there is.

Put the phone away. Turn it off. Delete the dreaded facebook app from your phone. Ask yourself with love, is my relationship with my phone balanced? Is it stressing me out? I suggest taking phone breaks. Just like vacation, we need time away. If the phone isn’t an issue, look to see if there’s another gadget or behavior that is subtly impacting your life. I take social media breaks often, put my phone away when I’m with friends, and turn it off from time to time ;). It’s so freeing!

How do you do it? How do you find balance? I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of love,