On Finding Balance

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On the first day of the school year, my boss made us promise that we would look at finding a positive work/life balance this year. Everyone is always so busy, and we tend to forget to look after ourselves. Being at work part time (but working at home as well – the planning and marking don’t stop!), makes me feel as though I am a little more balanced, but in reality I have had to look at the balance between work, family and me. It’s so natural to always put yourself last, and I have been guilty of a few adult tantrums when the words ‘bottom of the pile’ and ‘no time for me’ have been uttered. It normally gets to this point when I haven’t been to the gym for a few days, or taken time out for myself, and I don’t notice until it gets to this point. Stephen Covey was the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I use the habits as a guideline both at work and in my personal life, and the important lessons can benefit everyone. The seventh habit is to Sharpen The Saw – taking time out for you to find balance. It’s a habit that most people need to practice more, myself included! How can we find balance in our lives, so we don’t get to snapping point?

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 Take regular time out for you

This doesn’t have to be expensive, or incredibly time consuming. You can read a magazine for 10 minutes, or lose yourself in a book for a little while before you go to sleep. One thing I love to do is to go outside early in the morning or at dusk (often it’s to get the washing off the line) and just to stand and breathe. Being still, being in the moment and being mindful really has its benefits. It’s always said that you should book in time for you, and write it on your calendar. I have never done this as a rule, but I do have long standing days when I go to the gym, go for a walk or do something special for me.

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Exercise

In the past couple of years I have realised that I need to exercise, not only for my general health, but also my wellbeing. I try to exercise at least four times per week. Yoga is my favourite exercise, and I would do a class every day if I could. Unfortunately my gym only offers one per week. It’s a fantastic way to start the day, and if you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it. Taking an hour to concentrate on your breath, stretch and free incessant thoughts from your mind is pure magic. Friends have often asked me ‘How do you get up so early and go?’. I wake up at 5.30 for a 6am class, but honestly it is one of my favourite times of my week. While some mornings I don’t want to get out of bed, I know how great I will feel when I have finished the class. Walking outside, lifting weights and doing cardio in the gym are other activities I mix up. Seeing the changes in my body, and recognising the calmer feeling in my brain are such a reward.

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Meditation

I meditate every night before I go to bed, using an iPhone app. I’ve spoken about it before on the blog. The app I use is called Don’t Panic, by Andrew Johnson. You can find his apps and programs here. A couple of weeks I found out about a new app called Buddhify2. It offers a range of meditation sequences to suit a variety of situations. Learning how to breathe properly is such an important skill, and meditation really helps me with that. A shorter in-breath and longer out-breath can help to stem anxiety and calm you down. A simple body check, where you sit still and relax one part of your body at a time is a fantastic opportunity to just ‘be’. I find that with meditation I sleep better, and am more relaxed during the day. There are only positives and benefits!

I was asked again in a work review meeting a few weeks ago whether I had improved my work/life balance, and I can say that I am getting there. I think it will be hard to get just right, and of course there are times when you have more rest than play, and vice versa. I can safely say that it is still a work in progress, but it has improved on the beginning of the year!

How do you maintain your work/life balance? What types of things do you like to do for you?

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4 thoughts on “On Finding Balance

  1. I am rubbish at finding balance – I think that is because I am a “all or nothing” type of person which works both ways. I am working on trying to be a bit more balanced in that though. It is easier to find me time when you really really want to do something.

  2. I was at my PT group today, and met a woman who had already done three loads of washing and taken the kids on the school run. She was about to take the dog for a walk, and then work a 9 hour shift as a nurse! We, particularly as mothers, put so much pressure on ourselves.

    I’m having a unique issue in carving out work/life balance, but it’s so worth it.

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