Calm the chaos: how to restore balance to your life

If you find yourself feeling like you’ve lost control of your life, you feel guilty about neglecting parts of your job or your personal life, you find it hard to concentrate on tasks, and you’re always tired, it could be because your work life balance is out of whack.

The Canadian Mental Health Association1 has some tips to help you bring balance back into all areas of your life:

  1. Take a break. You’ll get more accomplished if you give yourself a 10-minute break every few hours at work, so schedule them in and make sure to take them.
  2. Prioritize. At the end of each day, set your priorities for the next day, being realistic about what can get done in the time available to you. Having a plan before the day even begins can help calm your mind and get you focused on the tasks at hand at the start of each new day.
  3. Turn off your email. If the scope of your job allows it, plan to read and answer emails only once or twice a day—or once an hour, if you can’t limit it that much. That way you won’t be constantly distracted by incoming messages that interrupt your workflow and thoughts.
  4. Protect your time. With home computers, internet access, and cell phones, it’s possible to be available 24/7—but it’s not healthy. Make a distinction between work and home, and protect your private time by looking at and responding to work requests and messages during working hours only.
  5. Communicate. Tell your employer what you need to ensure a proper balance between your job and the rest of your life. Manage her expectations by being clear about not responding to work requests outside of working hours, for example.
  6. Create a buffer. It’s hard to go right from one environment straight into another. If you can, create a bit of a buffer between work and home by doing a quiet, solitary activity for a little while before jumping into the evening’s activities. Take a short walk, listen to some music, or read a few pages of a good book.
  7. Move your body. Even 15 minutes of exercise helps you feel more energized and refreshed. Make yourself and your health a priority by taking time to care for yourself.
  8. Delegate. Ask the members of your household to share chores and other responsibilities so you’re not stuck trying to do it all. Check out our article on emotional labor [link to this month’s article) for tips on how to make the division of labor in your home more balanced.
  9. Create a budget Having a family budget ensures that you’re spending wisely with your financial goals in mind, and therefore makes purchasing decisions easier.
  10. Choose wisely. Social, community, and volunteer obligations can pull us in many different directions and take up a lot of our precious time. Make sure you only say “yes” to the ones that bring you the most joy and fulfillment. Visit MyForesters to find out more about volunteer opportunities right in your own community.

If you think you might need a bit more help getting yourself organized, improving your focus, breaking bad habits, and reducing your stress levels, check out Lifehack’s list of 14 smart apps that can help you find a healthy balance between work and play.

Remember, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed [link to June article on being overwhelmed] so often that it’s impacting the way you function, there’s no shame in seeking help from a professional who is trained to guide people who are dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. A therapist can give you the tools you need to cope with what’s going on around you, and help you to find healthy ways to manage your stress before it gets out of hand.



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