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If your work-life balance is off, learn what to do




work life balance

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when it comes to work. You want to get ahead, find success and can almost feel a ‘high’ or a feeling of ‘keeping up with everyone else’ when you work hard. And while hard work is admirable, it may not always be healthy.

When you work too hard, your health can start to suffer – whether it’s your sleep, your diet, or even your overall sense of calm and appreciation for life. What’s worse, your children, friends, and loved ones may notice and suffer along with you.

If we don’t find a healthy work-life balance, our personal lives can fall out of sync and can even affect our productivity and creativity at work.

“If you play a wrong note, it’s the next note you play that determines whether it’s good or bad.” – Miles Davis.

If you fall behind and start to feel burned out or lose sleep, overall happiness or health suffers – that’s okay. It’s just a wake-up call.

This article is about how to find the “right note” when you’ve gotten too far into the rut. When your well-being is on the edge (or almost), so will your work: past research shows that resting and taking more time for ourselves stimulates creativity, helps you concentrate better and ensures that you can get much more done in much less time.

Here’s how to let yourself escape and give yourself a break.

When it comes to your work and cultivating harmony, the rule of thumb is to find a 50/50 balance. Balance in itself implies a half-half split, which creates a push and pull, so if you work too much, the part of you that needs rest and calm starts to pull at your sleeve – and if you work too long When you’re out of the office, you feel the urge to get back to work.

Have you ever noticed the feeling you have after a vacation or a long weekend? You feel more rested, more creative and more motivated to get back to work.

This is what we want to achieve: harmony in work-life balance, so we do not avoid our work, but instead put our well-being first, so that when we work, it is easier and more productive.

Harmony creates a sense of peace as we move from one responsibility to another – so instead of stressing or frantically moving from one to the next, we do some things calmly and with confidence, keeping our stress levels low.

So, what can we do?

You may be thinking, this is all well and good, Lauren, but how do I actually do this in my own chaotic life?

Simple. Start by getting things in order.

  1. To breathe – Okay, okay, this may seem obvious. But when you’re in a high cortisol state and just trying to get through the day to get to your to-do list, taking long, deep breaths (or multiple breaths) becomes more important than ever. When we experience missteps, it reminds us that we need air. Step outside, take a few deep breaths and re-center.
  2. Reset – Whether it’s a five-minute reset in the middle of the day, or a two-week reset to a remote Caribbean island, we all need to take a break when things don’t feel right. We can’t do good work (or be great parents, partners, or friends) if things don’t feel right. What can we cross off the to-do list and what can we start again?

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough on what is important.” —Stephen Covey

Do this for your future self

It may feel like a big adjustment: taking a few steps back and breathing more – because there’s just too much to get done, Lauren! You may think. I hear you and I understand. I used to be there too.

But the reality is – I knew that if I didn’t slow down and take a good look at my health and how I was functioning every day, I would never be able to talk to you wonderful people about this slowing down hell and creating more space in your mind to do better work and have better health and relationships. It’s also about doing whatever it takes to create peace of mind, so maybe it’s not resting straight awaybut take care of peace for your immediate future.

Here’s an example:

Ask yourself: Does my current self always enjoy unloading the dishwasher? No! But does my future self love my past self when it is empty and ready to go? YES.

Say no much more often.

I get it – saying no in a world of ‘yes’ is hard. Does your current self want to say yes, even though you know your future self won’t want to say yes at that moment? Get to know yourself and think for a few seconds before saying yes and committing to something you will regret later. This will save you significant energy in the long run, folks.

Stop something. Or many things.

I know this can be hard… but we can’t do everything. Even if it’s something small, take a look at your calendar and make a note: which appointments, coffee dates, meetings or classes are you not entirely enthusiastic about? Drop them. If it’s something that has meaning to your heart or that you enjoy doing, keep it. But if you’re doing it out of obligation (or if it stresses you out), don’t do it. Your future self will thank you.

What to do if you don’t feel well.

We can’t feel good or perfect every day. Here you can read what to do if you feel ‘unwell’.

  1. Stop trying to be perfect and give yourself a break. Let yourself be swept off your feet and say “it’s okay.”
  2. Make a home-cooked meal. It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it’s a fun and relaxing activity that you can really enjoy (alone or with a friend or loved one).
  3. Stop drinking water with lemon before coffee. If you need and love coffee first (that’s me!) then stop. Don’t torture yourself.
  4. Dance. It. Out. Literally and figuratively. The way out of overwhelm is to find the beat that lights you up. The rhythm that ignites your soul and helps find a bridge from chaos to calm.

When life circumstances happen…

  • Remember it’s normal. We can’t control it all: life doesn’t flow like a river – it’s less a predictable “we’ll rock you” and more a “bohemian rhapsody” – a big, free-flowing dramatic piece of work. Take care of yourself in the chaotic times and enjoy and enjoy the peaceful times.
  • I don’t think life is meant to have meaning. We are meant to find joy in our lives, especially the little things, which is why gratitude is so popular right now. When life feels uncertain, look up and find a little piece of peace to keep in your pocket.
  • Be quiet. Sometimes when life is too loud and too much, silence is the only way. Silence has the power to keep us calm and pull us out of a slump.