Making a Great Day starts with turning your focus to your own personal well-being and how that plays out in your daily quest for (work/life) balance. When we challenge our balance by splitting ourselves in two or more directions, we tax our emotional and physical stability. With so many of us experiencing the high stress of life’s challenges and current events, it’s critical that we take time to make ourselves our first priority. Our personal health and careers depend on balance.
When we experience balance, we find ourselves exclaiming, “What a great day!” But, on the other side is imbalance and you might notice that when you feel out of balance you state, “I am having a bad day.” There is a direct correlation between balance, feeling good, and being the best version of yourself.
Balance is elusive. We often feel disappointed at our attempt to live a balanced life. But what I have come to know is that complete and constant balance is impossible to achieve. What is possible, however, is a balance on average, over time. Our lives are not steady, and work is constantly changing, so the reality is that some days will require you to focus more on work, and other days more on personal life. Fluctuations are to be expected. Having an awareness of where you are on the scales of balance will enable you to adjust.
Through much trial and error, I have landed on six guiding principles (with accompanying exercises) to help you infuse balance into your life:
1. Breathe: In times of stress, we can turn to our focusing on our breath for relief. It’s free, easy to access, and an effective antidote to the anxiety and physical symptoms of stress. Breathe control can be used when you feel stressed, upset at a co-worker, or wanting to hide under your desk.
Exercise: Balloon Breathing: Raise your arms high from your sides up over your head as you take a deep breath. As you exhale, let all the air come out like a balloon as you drop your arms.
Take a long breath in and as you exhale, say “ahhhh…”
2. Challenge: Another helpful way to keep your work/life balance healthy is to handle issues as they come up instead of letting them simmer. For example, if you have a disagreement with a co-worker and don’t address it directly with them, chances are that you will take that frustration home and keep thinking about it.
Exercise: 3 “P” Method for handling conflict:
Step 1: Pause and notice your current emotions.
Step 2: Pivot out of a negative spiral.
Step 3: Consider positive possibilities.
3. Move: Movement is another way to care for your own well-being. When you are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed or just blocked, take a moment to physically move away from the situation. Movement will free up creative space where solutions flow.
Exercise: Take a few minutes movement break every hour. Stretch at your desk, take the stairs, or go for a walk.
4. Nourish: Healthy and balanced food choices support a healthy mental state.
Exercise: Pause before making an unhealthy food choice. Instead of eating sugar to reduce stress, reach for a glass of water with fresh lemon.
5. Communicate: One of the most vital aspects of success in our personal and professional relationships is communication—the thread that connects us together. Poor communication causes unneeded stress.
Exercise: Practice focused listening by giving your full attention to the individual speaking to you without interrupting them or offering your advice. Just listen.
6. Routine: A daily routine that includes space for personal well-being will allow you to flourish. Taking time for yourself should be part of your routine. When you do something that inspires you throughout your day, you will be inspired.
Exercise: Put well-being time on your schedule. Make a list of activities you love to do and keep it on your desk for easy access.
If you are working too much, you will not have the energy to do things when you are not at work. If you play too hard outside of work, you will not have the energy for your job. It might seem like having to pay attention to your work/life balance is just one more thing to add to the list, but I can promise you it is worth adding. When your life is balanced between work and other activities, you will be more satisfied, more motivated, happier, and healthier.