There is a lot of hype around finding a good work/life balance, how it is good for your mental and physical wellbeing, but what does it mean, and how exactly do you find balance?
A good life balance is important, but it looks vastly different for each individual. We all have different priorities in our lives that require different amounts of our time. So finding balance is going to be circumstantial. Take for example the stay-at-home mum with three young children; her priorities are going to include getting the housework done, looking after the kids and cooking. For a single woman in the corporate world, her priorities may include meetings, appointments and climbing the career ladder.
So what do we mean by finding balance? In this post, we will be looking at why finding balance is important to your mental and physical health, what finding balance actually means, as well as just what you can do to find it.
Why is balance important to your mental health?
Have you ever heard the rhyme: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?’
It’s reasonably true as statements go. If you work all the time, where do you fit in time for family, friends; and just as important, for you?
When I first started blogging years ago, it was at a time when my work life was horrendous. I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and my IBS made a daily appearance. The only way out that I could see was to start a business and leave the 9-5 rat race.
I would work on my blog in the morning, go to work and then blog again in the evening. I didn’t really see much of anyone, I stressed constantly that my ‘business’ wasn’t making any money, which made all my health issues worse. The house wasn’t getting cleaned, and I was generally a bit of a mess. Burned out, with no energy, I realised I had to find a balance.
I gave up my blog because I couldn’t cope with that and working in a stressful environment I was in. I was devastated, to begin with. My dream of running my own business was gone. But then I realised I suddenly had all this time on my hands.
I was able to go and visit family, spend time with friends, and have some quality one on one time with my son and husband. It made a huge difference to my mental health, which in turn made me feel like taking care of my physical health again.
The point is, you have to work out what the priorities are for you. I love running this blog, I feel like sharing my experiences may actually do some good. And while I would one day like it to be a full-time business for me, at the moment it’s a hobby that I enjoy and look forward to.
What does finding balance mean?
As I stated above, finding balance is going to mean something different for everyone. The way to decide what your priorities are is to figure out:
- What you have to do (work, kids, etc)
- The things you need to do (shopping, cleaning the house etc)
- What you want to do (hobbies, relax, self-care, socialising etc)
Rank them in order of importance in each category and then decide what you are going to be doing for that day/week/month depending on how far ahead you like to plan.
Also, make a note of the things you spend your time doing that doesn’t benefit you. Things like scrolling mindlessly through social media, watching tv for too long etc. These are the things you can stop doing to give you more time for the things you should be doing.
Learn to say no. This could be one of the most important lessons you ever learn:
If you say ‘no,’ the world will keep on turning.
Hard to believe, right? But it’s true. If you say no to extra work time, social events you don’t have time for, favours for friends and family, and so on, nothing will implode, no one will die and no one will hate you for it.
You have the right to choose where your time is spent. You just have to decide where you want that to be.
How do you balance everything in your life?
As above, having your list of priorities can be handy. I have a list like this (I love lists!) In my ‘have to do’ category, I have my job. That’s it! I have to work to keep a roof over my head and pay the bills. Everything else is optional.
My ‘need to do’ list includes housework, looking after my pets and shopping.
My ‘want to do list’ grows all the time! I include this blog, crafting, reading, walking, listening to music, socialising with friends and family, spending time with my husband, keeping in touch with my son at Uni, and more.
Each week I write out my work hours, then I add in time for the housework, and a day to go shopping. My cats are pretty routine, as long as I feed them twice a day, keep their litter tray clean and give them lots of love, they are happy. The rest of the time I allot to the things I love. And I always make sure I get at least 10 minutes a day for meditation. This is how I find balance, but it could look different for you.
Look at this way:
In every week, there are 168 hours. Assuming you sleep for 8 hours a night and work for 8 hours a day, you have 56 hours to get everything else in. I spend an average of 6-10 hours a week on my ‘need to do’ list, so I still have 46-52 hours to do what I want with!
Review your list/plan often, this way you will start to see a pattern of how you feel when you keep your life balanced as opposed to this times when you slip.
If you do slip back into old habits, don’t beat yourself up, you’re only human, and new habits take time to form. Just revisit your plan, tweak where necessary and start again.
Finding a balance in your life is essential for your wellbeing. You should be working to live, not living to work.
Do you struggle to find balance in your life? What are the obstacles you face? Let me know in the comments below!