Creating Balance is essentially the art of managing life's demands, keeping stress levels in check and personal resilience strong.
When you get the balance right you have a better chance of being happier, healthier, achieving your goals and enjoying life more.
But with our 24/7 culture it is easy get out of balance and the pressures of daily life can take over and lead to stress. Spend too long here and it’s no secret that you may start to feel some fairly unpleasant side effects to health and potentially all aspects of life.
So what can you practically do every day to give you a better chance of creating and maintaining balance?
Read on for 10 tips taken from the many tools and techniques shared in my classes, workshops and programmes.....
1. Organise Your Time
Nothing can make you feel more out of balance than an overwhelming to do list and time wasted whilst you jump from task to task without feeling like you are actually getting anywhere.
You can reduce the amount of pressure and stress in your day by having a clear plan and using your time efficiently.
Set aside a few minutes in the morning or the night before to set your intentions for the day.
List the things that you absolutely have to get done. Be realistic and acknowledge that you can only do so much each day. This isn’t just about the work stuff and I would encourage you to include your personal priorities on the same list.
Work out when you are going to do them, group tasks where it makes sense to do so and allow ample time to get activities done. Do your best to stick to your plan but allow some wiggle room for things that may crop up during the day.
Watch out for distractions and try not to let the usual suspects like emails, interruptions, social media etc get in the way of you achieving your goals.
At the end of the day, review your list and enjoy the sense of achievement for whatever you can tick off of your list. We all know that some days go better than others and if today was not a great day, don’t beat yourself up – tomorrow is another day!
2. Use your Energy
Are you are morning or an evening person?
It makes sense that ‘your time of day’ will be when your energy is at its highest and where possible you should structure your day to use this to your advantage.
Aim to tackle important and challenging tasks when you are at your peak, as you will be more focused and productive.
When your energy tank is running low is a great time to tackle the less important, less challenging tasks or quick wins. Or spend time on the time wasters such as surfing the internet, social media or watching TV etc if that works with your schedule.
This may not logistically always be possible for instance if you repeat one task/activity all day. However can you do a little more when your energy is high to take the slack for when your energy is low? Or simply use your high time to shine!
As a minimum you should at least not be giving yourself a hard time when you are not running on all cylinders and doing what you can to fuel your body and mind to support you.
3. Fuel your Body
Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with the pressures placed them under, helping you to stay healthy and balanced.
This subject can be a complicated one but for me I like to think of food in 2 ways – is it fuel or is it fun?
I don't think there are too many foods that fall into both camps!
Aim to have around 80% of your food intake as fuel – this will ensure your body gets the nutrients, vitamins and minerals required to work optimally.
And for me I enjoy around 20% of my food for fun but set a percentage that is inline with your beliefs and goals!
4. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is essential and an easy one to achieve for most of us.
Aim to drink plenty of water and herbal teas throughout the day. Our body is over 70% water so it makes sense doesn’t it.
Staying hydrated helps with the digestion of food, absorption of nutrients and the elimination of toxins. It’s also great for helping to maintain clear skin.
5. Take Regular Breaks
We are not machines and if you try to work for too long without breaks your energy and focus will begin to diminish, taking your productivity and sense of balance with it.
Your pain receptors can switch off too when you are busy so you won’t always notice the negative effects of for instance too much sitting or standing. Your body may however tell you at the end of day when your neck, shoulders, back or hips may be screaming at you. Had you moved and taken breaks throughout the day the chances are this may have been avoided.
When you work in approximately 90 minute blocks and take 5 minute breaks to recover and re-energise, it is proven that you will be more effective and your body and mind will benefit.
Additionally a break is an opportunity to influence your nervous system from busy to relaxed. This is great training in learning to stay in a relaxed state under pressure or at least how to recover quickly. Doing this throughout the day can also help you to come down at the end of the day when you want to truly relax and prepare for sleep.
Doesn’t need to be complicated. Interrupt your sitting or standing, stretch, breath, walk, grab a cuppa, have a chat with someone - whatever takes you away from the task at hand and gives you a break.
6. Connect with Others
We often cope better with life’s challenges by talking to and sharing our feelings with other people.
This may be as simple as talking to your partner or best friend or seeking a qualified health professional or organisation to help you manage your challenges or if you are experiencing health concerns. Consider a mentor who can support you through your personal and professional growth.
Surround yourself with supportive people who lift you higher, encourage and expand you - rather than those who deplete and contract you.
Research suggests that people who have friends and family they can count on and a sense of community actually live longer. So make time to build and maintain positive relationships.
7. Move your Body
Building in activities that are enjoyable, manageable and that work with your routine is a great way of supporting health and building your personal resilience. Doesn’t need to be difficult if you have a busy schedule – here are a few suggestions:
Walk part or all of the way to work
Do some basic stretches or yoga
Put on a favourite song and just dance
Go for a walk around the office or the block
Organise to catch up and exercise with friends
Do some chores - gardening, housework or clean the car!
Attend an organised exercise class
Take the stairs rather than the lift
Cycle instead of drive
Go to the park with the kids
Along with keeping you healthy and in balance, getting active is great for alleviating stress. When your body is under stress it goes into a state of physical preparation i.e. fight and flight. One of the best ways to return it to a more relaxed state is to give it a physical response.
One word of caution though in that if you are under high degrees of pressure, working the body too hard can add to the pressure. Be realistic about what you’ve got on your plate and aim to support your body through exercise and activity, not smash it.
Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways of influencing the nervous system. In particular the gentle extension of the exhale can send a signal to the body that it is safe, invoking the relaxation response which is the opposite to the stress response.
In the relaxation response you increase your energy, focus and productivity as a result of dissolved stress and anxiety.
A simple but effective way to do this is to aim to stop a few times each day and take 10 conscious breaths. Without force, gradually allow the breath to expand into your chest and belly with each inhale and exhale slowly and fully.
This is a good one to do when taking a break or I like to do this before each meal. This has the added bonus of eliciting a relaxed state before eating which enables nutrients to be better absorbed.
9. Have Fun
What do you do for fun every day?
If that question caused you to have a rather blank expression then it’s time to inject more fun into your life!
Schedule activities and breaks into your calendar that are fun and you can look forward to. Some of these should be daily easy to do activities and some are the bigger ticket items. Make a list and prioritise them.
Smile more and laugh more. If really does help to lift our mood and the mood of those around us.
Laughter and fun really can be great medicine and help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and help you feel more balanced.
So go on – have some fun!
10. Prioritise Sleep
Sleep is essential for the body to function properly and makes a huge difference to physical and mental wellbeing.
You can’t make yourself sleep soundly but you can set up the conditions to give yourself the best chance of getting to and staying asleep.
One way to do this is to create a routine that signals and prepares the mind and body for sleep.
Create a short routine and practice it every night. That way your body will become familiar with the routine and it will be more likely to respond to the routine when the pressure is high and you really need sleep support.
Prepared by Practically Balanced
I hope that you find these 10 tips useful and feel free to share them with
anyone you feel may benefit from them.