Is your life one-dimensional? Are you focused on work and not able to spend enough time with your family, or taking care of yourself? Maintaining a balance among the different areas of your life is critical to achieving overall health and wellness.
When life is out of balance, or you feel compelled to spend too much time in one area at the expense of others, both physical and psychological health can decline.
Our bodies tell us when life is out of balance. Yes, a calendar or day planner documents that you are spending the majority of your time at work, and cutting corners with family activities, nutrition, exercise, and sleep. But your body is the best indicator that things are out of balance - moodiness, feeling stress and anxiety, gastro-intestinal disturbances, and insomnia.
In The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte explains that people thrive when they have time for what he calls the “three marriages”
Supporting well-being in each of these three areas can be accomplished with practical strategies and some concrete suggestions to help with prioritizing your time. And, even though it seems counterintuitive, taking a break from an activity (like work) can make you more productive when you return. The “downtime” allows you to recharge as you focus on the other areas of your life.
Know your priorities
First, start by identifying what your priorities are – family, your ministry, yourself – and how you spend your time. Some activities, like work, will take most of your time, but prioritizing will let you leave work to attend your child’s soccer game or school play, keep date night with your spouse, or join your friends for the Thursday night basketball game. Achieving a better balance in your life is not just about how you spend your time; it’s also about identifying what’s most important to you and taking the opportunities to devote yourself to activities you enjoy.
It’s all about balance
Cigna identifies the following as “balancing skills”:
- Understand your priorities
- Keep your life organized
- Find ways to manage technology
- Share responsibilities
Key to balancing your life is setting boundaries that allow you to leave one activity “behind” and focus on your current activity. Some useful practices are:
- Leave work at work
- Have a boundary ritual
- Set appropriate boundaries
- Learn how to say “no” without guilt
- Send yourself a message
Build a support network
You are not alone. Consider partnering with an “accountability buddy” to help you keep your commitments to a more balanced life; chances are you have friends who are looking to balance their lives also. Turning to others for support offers opportunities to share responsibility and have someone to help you keep your priorities in mind as you decide how to spend your time. Colleagues, friends, and family may welcome the chance to become involved and partner with you as you both work on balancing your life.