Achieving a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance. Such a well-worn phrase it’s almost become a cliché. But what does it mean, exactly? And is it actually achievable? In our world of human doings who’ve (either by design or necessity) forgotten they are human beings, it’s a serious question.

Signs your life is out of balance
I always know my life is out of whack when I start to feel any – or all – of the following:
1. overwhelmed.
2. irritable and short-tempered.
3.  overly emotional.
4.  angry and unable to concentrate or complete tasks.
5.  forgetful.
6.  exhibit passive aggressive behaviour (ouch!)
7.  feel constantly stressed – like having 10 cups of coffee.
8.  my breathing is shallow and rapid.
9.  my boundaries are unclear and i say “yes” when I really mean “no”.
10. I feel sad or depressed.
11.  I am constantly comparing myself to those who are appearing to ‘do more’ with their time.
12.  There is no creativity or play in my life.
13.  I’m involved in either too much work or too much play.
14.  I have no energy and am constantly tired.

How to tell when your life IS balanced
I know I’m in balance when I am expressing my fun, my creativity and feel in the flow with life. When life, in spite of its inherent challenges, is still flowing and is often effortless. I know when I’m in balance when I exercise, eat healthy food and take care of myself. If I’m not taking care of myself, then I can’t take care of my partner, my friends or my family. I know I’m in balance when I’m not worrying and angsting over everything, I’m not in denial; there is just a calmness about my actions. And I am very clear about boundaries and manage to articulate them to colleagues and loved ones.

How to get your life back in balance
The key here is actually being consciously aware that your life is out of balance in the first place. For some of us, working a 60-hour week is normal. Having no free time is normal. Sorry folks, it may be ‘normal’ but it sure ain’t healthy. To fully express all of you – left and right brain – we need balance in our lives.

Firstly, find out where your life is out of balance. I get clients to draw a circle, then divide it up into the following areas: Family/Work/Partner/Exercise/Friends/Spirituality/Me Time. Then write down what percentage of your time you are giving to each area. You might be surprised at the results!

Depending which areas are the most out of whack, write down some easy action steps to creating equilibrium. You could combine exercise with family time by an afternoon at your local pool. Or combine friends and spirituality by going to a workshop together.

Benefits of being in balance
Generally, I feel happier and more relaxed, which then has a positive effect on everyone I come into contact with. If we are feeling calmer we will inspire others to seek more balance in their own lives. I can think more clearly and make more congruent decisions that are beneficial. Decisions that are not fear-based but are more intuitive and self-serving. One great benefit of being in balance is that I am much more aware of my body and its messages. Often our heads overrule the body. Listening to your body can be extremely beneficial. It speaks the truth!

Here are a couple of great quotes that always remind me about balance in my life:
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythmn and harmony” Thomas Merton

“Man always travels along precipes. His truest obligation is to keep his balance”
Pope John Paul II