In my many years of practice as a psychologist I have witnessed the emotions of guilt, frustration and stress felt by my clients who are off balance.
As a human being, we have several areas to attend to in our day-to-day lives. It’s not just balance between work and family that’s hard to find. If you are a parent, it is very likely that you are constantly struggling to find balance between the needs of your family and your own needs. Or if you don’t have children it can be difficult to find time to exercise, time to read or to be alone, to visit friends or even to take a long hot shower, and so on. Balance is an issue for all of us.
Life is busy and can sometimes seem one-sided. Even though dedicating ourselves to one aspect of our lives can help us complete an important project or to achieve a dream in a specific area, staying there too long can mean we lose contact with the importance of other areas in life.
Quality versus quantity
Balance goes beyond distributing your time equally in all your areas. I personally consider that it consists of having clear goals of what you want to achieve in your life and actively working towards those goals without abandoning other areas in your life.
Be specific. It’s more useful to say, “I’m going to spend an hour alone with each child sometime this week,” than to say, “I’m going to have quality time with each of my children.” Quality time is a great concept, but it’s also a vague one.
And since it’s so vague, it’s hard to know whether or not you’ve accomplished that goal, which makes it hard to feel in balance. This can also help you to look back in your life and realise what have you have achieved and appreciate your effort.
I constantly say to my clients: “Remember that today you only have today to live…”. Everyday is an investment in your life. Think about where you want to go. And realise that with what you are doing today you are taking your life in a specific direction. But is that direction giving meaning to your life? Take time to think about being the best version of yourself every day and choose how you invest every day in your life wisely. Decide what’s important, focus on it and get it done.
Don’t just sit in front of the television, really connect and pay attention to those you care about. Make a date with your significant other, have a coffee with a friend, play a game with your child. Really get to know the people around you.
Use your imagination
One of the main causes of depression and other mental health difficulties is when life becomes too routine, when one day becomes exactly the same as the next. Use your imagination and try to do something different two or three times a week. It doesn’t need to be costly or big. It could be just taking a different route to get home, or a drink that you haven’t tried before, visit a new place or make contact with an old friend, even a scented candle can make a difference to your day.
You will find that “magic happens” when you get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes taking risks is the only way to achieve what you really want. Always give your maximum and enjoy the rewards of your effort.
Be compassionate with yourself. Remember you are a human being you have the right to feel tired. You are not a machine that needs to spend everyday in “doing mode”. Take some time to do nothing and to relax so you can recharge your batteries. And if sometimes things don’t go to plan, remember that you can start all over again and you have your life back in your hands. Give love to yourself in the same way you expect to receive it from the people you love.
Rather than trying to stay balanced, think of yourself as practising balancing, over and over again. Finding balance is a lifetime project. It is ongoing. Balance is a way of living.