Sounds like a quest, doesn’t it. It can be. The world can be a crazy place. World affairs seem very off balance at the moment. Politics, increasing reliance on technology and what is, as good as all these digital connections seem, an unnatural way of living, away from nature – the way people have always lived up until around thirty years ago. I will admit that I struggle, at times, to find balance. Between work, family life and other commitments, there often doesn’t seem the time. This subject has gained traction in academic circles in recent times, with various studies undertaken into work and personal life balance.
What is balance?
Balance can mean many things. Your bank balance. Balance in gymnastics or sport. In relation to a person, it has everything to do with a healthy mind and equilibrium. Striking a centre point between stressful situations and relaxation / recuperation is important for a healthy mind. And a healthy mind is, in turn, important for maintaining a healthy body. You might have already found balance but not recognised that you have. It’s something we don’t think about as it’s not easily quantifiable. How many of you look at the intricacies of how you live? If you did find balance, would you know it?
You’ll certainly know if things aren’t right. If you’re a hard worker and your life is skewed disproportionately towards work, maybe you’re anxious. You might feel that your head is scrambled and your thought processes and decision making is off. Where you might feel good about yourself for putting the effort and chasing your goals, this can be offset by what I’ve mentioned. And you risk burning out. You may feel agitated and lack clarity. The opposite can be true. If you’re the type of person who maybe lacks motivation – whatever the reason, and you find yourself out of work long term, you may have become at ease with your situation – long lie ins, video games, spending time doing nothing of note.
If you have no real reason to push yourself and work towards a goal, there’s a possibility that you’ll fall victim to bad habits. Maybe your’re neither of the above and are a stay at home parent, juggling the needs of your family, often above your own. Whatever side of the fence you fall, it is important for general well-being that you find balance.
Of course, there are many reasons for both situations – If you are putting everything into work, is it to escape another situation? Maybe you’re not happy with life at home. If you’re content with doing nothing, is there a barrier that, in reality, is stopping you? Maybe you are lacking confidence and allowing yourself to live a life without future prospects.
We didn’t need to find balance in childhood
If you do fit into either camp, you probably don’t feel fulfilled. I want you to cast your mind back to when you last did. When you felt life had meaning. You maybe worked, spent time with your family, were fit (whether through sport or the gym). Can you picture that time? Were you ever there? I’m just getting back to it now.
The last time I had the right balance was when I was at school. Or maybe during my first job. Looking at the reasons, it was probably because I didn’t yet own my own home and very much before I became a dad. Life was easier. I paid my board at home, I saw my girlfriend of a weekend or the odd time in the week. i spent time with family – sharing a bedroom with my brother and I had time to socialise, get outdoors and walk or play football and just have fun. Work purely facilitated living. On analysis of my situation, for me to find balance, I had to take the time to look back to that situation and analyse the things that changed.
I only see my friends on occasion now – usually for birthdays or other special gatherings. They’re mostly in the same situation. People grow up and start their own families. Until recently, I spent much of my time working – and that included when outside of my day job. Is blogging work? Yes and no. If you enjoy writing, it can be fun. But it takes time. I saw my extended family, but not as much as I’d like to and when I did, I was venting to let off steam. At some point in the last 15 to 20 years, I had lost my happy go lucky persona and was often, angry. I got outdoors, but through work usually, so fitness wasn’t a thing.
It was time to make a change
The first change I made was to join a gym. The benefits have been instant. As well as feeling fitter and stronger in general, it’s almost as if someone has rebooted my brain. There are proven, academic benefits to keeping fit, not least a boost of serotonin, the happy chemical. I find that my memory is sharper – this works well if I’ve trained of a morning as I’m on the ball at work. I’ve dedicated more time to family. Quality time to simply catch up. I see my friends a little more than I was doing. It’ll never be like when we were kids, life simply doesn’t allow it, but it’s great to spend a bit of time and reminisce.
Here’s an important one, for those of you in relationships. Turn off the television and spend at least an hour of quality time together of an evening. Once the little one has gone to sleep and I’ve tied up any blog loose ends, I make sure that I have a chat with my wife about how her day has gone as we hadn’t done this for a long time and it led to a lot of miscommunication.
We were all children once – time was in abundance and there were less stresses as these fell on our parents and care givers. As adults, we have to consider how we live our lives in an attempt to find balance and maintain it.
Key points to help you find balance in your life
Here are a few key points that I have used and that might also help you to find balance in your life.
- Examine your situation – keep a log if necessary. Be honest with yourself – are you doing too much of something and not enough of something else? If so, what are the reasons for this?
- Be family orientated – whether it’s your spouse, child, grandparent or cousin – maintain that connection.
- Talk – Keep open dialogue with those close to you. Do not allow yourself to become shut off, whether this is in pursuit of your goals or otherwise.
- Prepare – plan ahead, set goals. develop a routine that works. But also, don’t be afraid to..
- Be spontaneous – being prepared allows time for spontaneity and being spontaneous on occasion breaks up routine and allows for new experiences.
- Down time – schedule down time into your plans. Make yourself unreachable by work if needs be, take a holiday away from the grind. Or simply, go for a walk in an open space.
- Sleep – Without the right amount of sleep (not too little, not too much) we feel sluggish and don’t perform well. Between 6 and 8 hours is enough for most people.
- Steer clear of negativity – Balance and happiness go hand in hand. If you’re exposing yourself to negativity – whether it’s the news, toxic people, self criticism or social media, you won’t be happy. Purge it if possible by spending less time on social media, switching off the TV, avoiding people who bring you down – and go easy on yourself. Life isn’t easy and there are many, many people experiencing the same or worse than you.
The power to find balance
It’s important to remember that we each have the power to find balance in our lives. It may feel like you’re fighting your way through fog to get there from time to time, but it is possible with perseverance.
Have you had similar experiences to those I’ve covered above? Are you on a personal trip to find balance, inner peace and purpose? Let me know about it in the comments.