Finding a balance in life is all the rage these days. You don’t have to look too far on social media or the internet to find information about how it has become an important variable in peoples lives. Yet, with all the awareness that is out there, so many people fail to implement this advice into their lives. In fact, Americans are as unhealthy as ever and its becoming an epidemic.
As a psychologist, I have been guilty of poor life work balance most of my life. I have always been a goal driven individual with aspirations of achieving more than my parents before me and hopes of improving my life so that my children know what hard work can yield. I have worked multiple jobs, while attending school, and doing internships or extracurricular activities. A few decades into this pattern, I am starting to realize that prioritizing health, family, and children with my desire to succeed at work requires significant changes to balancing my life.
So what does one do to find work life balance? An overall feeling of happiness is a good indicator of having achieved this balance. You find time to relax on weekends with loved ones, you are happy to go to work and put forth your best effort, and you feel physically well. Now, these are very general indicators of having achieved a balance, but they do signify some important aspects of balance that you should look to achieving.
Setting aside time to spent with you family and friends is an important social goal. This provides us with feelings of love, happiness, acceptance, and community. These people support us, while we support them, and form a bond that has been woven into our genetic makeup as beings.
Secondly, going to work with a positive attitude and putting forth your best effort regardless of the tasks or office drama at hand is reflective of internal balance. The ability to do these things requires a sense of purpose, self-confidence, and general feelings of enlightenment that come with a balanced life. It takes a strong, and confident person who is generally in a happy place emotionally to avoid getting caught up in the rat race, or to have the ability to leave the rat race when they clock out for the day. This mindset will be pronounced during large corporate changes, such as reorganizations that can lead many individuals to feel neglected, overwhelmed, under-appreciated, or lost. These individuals are able to separate their self worth from the position they hold in the office. When your value is not dependent on external variables, there will be a more consistent and calming view of your place in the world.
Finally, having an overall feeling of health means making your health a priority. This includes food intake, exercise, and rest for the body and mind. American society is not conducive to this mindset. Americans are unhealthy, overweight, over worked and stressed out. There is a culture within our society that promotes over scheduling, and constantly being on the go. Kids need to be involved in multiple after school activities, and parents are expected to get the work done regardless of the cost to their health or families.
Finding enjoyment in your day to day life is what makes life wonderful. When we get so consumed with details, finding time to schedule fun becomes less of a priority, until it is nothing but a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know we live in a different world then our parents and grandparents, but back in the day people took time to sip the lemonade, sit in the moment, and enjoy doing nothing. Biologically we are designed so that we spend most of our time in a relaxed and functional state of being, with brief periods of stress. Reversal of these states puts unnecessary stress on our bodies and minds, and we are not meant to sustain those stress levels for extended periods of time.
Finding time for yourself is not a luxury. In fact it will make you better at what you do. A relaxed and happy employee will produce better. Coworkers who are healthy and happy will likely be more supportive. Parents who are not overwhelmed will be better parents. Children who are not stress out out will learn as adults that life is not about overworking themselves. There are many ways to increase balance in life, and its easier than you think. You didn’t become overworked and over-scheduled over night, so make small changes until you reach your goals. Its within your reach if you work at it.