Natural health, beauty and fashion

How to NOT Have it All

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We live in such a fast-paced world. The pressure to be ‘always-on’ and to achieve all your life goals by a young age is overwhelming. And for those that have achieved a top position at work, the pressure to keep growing, to keep climbing and to remain ‘the best’ can be too much. Meanwhile, showing that you can do it all and have it all: the perfect job, the perfect family, the perfect home, the perfect family vacations, the perfect social life, the perfect body… is causing our society to be more stressed than ever.

What about taking time out to relax? Or to enjoy life without obligations? Everyone’s talking about the importance of a healthy work-life balance, but what exactly is that? And how do we achieve that? Here are 10 tips to get you started…

1.   Prioritise

When the to-do list seems unachievable, those emails keep on coming, the housework hasn’t been done, the kids need your attention, and you haven’t had a meaningful conversation with your partner since who knows when, it’s time to prioritise. Write a list of all the tasks you need to achieve and give each one a time it requires to achieve them. If you find that you have more tasks to do than hours in the day, it’s time to remove some from your list, or delay them for another day when you can achieve them. Being able to see everything on paper and to actually count the number of hours you’d need to achieve everything might just be the wake up call you need to learn to prioritise and say no.

2.   Learn to Say ‘NO’

Trying to do it all could have negative effects both on your physical and mental health in the long term. So, learning to say no is as important for you as it is for those around you who need you the most. Whether it’s saying no to taking on that extra project, to signing up to that extra volunteer programme, that work event, that dinner party, whatever it is, if it’s unachievable politely decline and be confident in knowing that you haven’t let people down.

3.   Cut your Commute

Whether it’s sitting behind the wheel in a traffic jam, or crammed into an overcrowded train, the commute to and from work can be an incredibly stressful experience for many employees, which can have a negative effect on their health as well as their productivity. In fact, several studies have shown that a long commute can lead to stress and depression.

If this sounds like you, then consider a change. This doesn’t necessarily mean changing jobs or changing home, but could be as simple as asking your employer for a flexible working schedule. Maybe travelling at different times of the day to avoid the rush hour crowd or working from home a couple of days a week to give you some time away from the commute. Make a case for yourself before speaking to your employer and explain how the stressful commute is affecting your productivity, your mood and your stress levels, and how a flexible work arrangement would be beneficial for you and your employer.

If it’s not the commute that’s getting you down, but the time required for you to be in the office and maybe juggling that with your family situation, then again, it’s worth requesting that flexible work arrangement that you’re entitled to. The law says all employees are entitled to request flexible working, but many don’t for fear of appearing weak. So, approach this from a place of strength where you are saying you can continue to deliver good quality work, and be a productive asset to the company, but you require more flexibility to do so!

Photo by StockSnap

4.   Put That Phone Away

Having instant access to emails via our phones is a negative as much as it can be a positive. It’s great to be able to send an email while on the go, to accept a meeting invitation while sitting on the train, to access any piece of software from anywhere at any time. But have you thought about the effect this has on your mental health? When do you give yourself the time to switch off from ‘work-mode’ and really focus on your family or your ‘me-time’? Recently, a child’s essay went viral for expressing how they wished smartphones had never been invented so their parents wouldn’t spend all their time on them.

Exactly how dedicated can you be to your family and loved ones if you’re constantly checking your email or your social media? Next time you reach for your phone in the evening, ask yourself ‘is this incessant checking of emails and social media adding to my productivity or just pointless stress’?

5.   Make Time for Meals

Ever heard of mindful eating? Or are you one of those people who eats breakfast on the go, lunch at their desk, and dinner in front of the TV? Sitting at the table, surrounded by family or friends, enjoying a meal and having a conversation can have a beneficial effect on our moods, our health, and overall happiness. Consider waking up a little earlier to enjoy breakfast at home perhaps while having a conversation with your partner. Then when lunchtime hits, don’t eat behind your desk but if you bring a packed lunch why not enjoy it outside while getting some fresh air. And make the time to sit round the dinner table in the evening and talk about how your day went, with the TV off!

6.   Forget About Perfection

Whether it’s at work or at home, if you’re the kind of person who believes they’d rather do everything themselves because they can do it better than their partner/employee/colleague, then this one’s for you. Learn to accept that perfection is not always achievable, realistic or even necessary. Left the house without making the bed this morning? It’s OK. Your colleague sent an email with a small typo that you never would have missed? It’s OK. Your partner did the laundry while you were at work but didn’t lay out the clothes as neatly as you would have and now they’ll be all wrinkled? It’s OK. Ask yourself ‘what is the worst thing that could happen if this isn’t perfect’? and you’ll soon realise the answer is not as dire as you may feel. Learn to let go of always wanting to achieve perfection, and instead learn to be happy with ‘good enough’. It might go against everything you believe in, but in time you’ll see it’ll make you a lot less stressed and able to just enjoy life!

Photo by mickey970

7.   Take it Down a Gear

Are you the type of person who is always in a rush, always running from one task to another, from one meeting to another, from one location to another? Do you walk fast even when you’re meant to be enjoying time out? Do you run the fastest and jump the highest during your morning HIIT class or your weekend bootcamp? Do you drive fast because you need to get places? Do you speak fast because you need to get to the point? If this sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to slow down and ease off the adrenaline. Ask yourself why you feel the need to constantly rush around. And more importantly, consider how that feels for those around you, like your family and friends, when they feel like you can’t give them your full attention because you’re always in a rush. As strong as you think you are, no one can carry on at such a fast rhythm indefinitely – eventually you will crash. So, before that happens, take it down a gear and learn to slow down.

Photo by anja828

8.   Meditation & Mindfulness

It goes without saying that taking up meditation or mindfulness will help you to slow down, to take more time for self-reflection, and to be more in touch with your own self. Mindfulness will also help you to be more present and to adopt methods in your everyday life to help you cope with stressful situations. But don’t try to do it all alone, because it can be overwhelming at first and could make you want to give up. Maybe join a course like a Mindfulness Based Living Course, which just requires a couple of hours of your time a week and can teach you methods and techniques that you can use for a lifetime.

9.   Find a Hobby Just for You

It’s important to have something that is just yours that allows you to switch off from the pressures and demands of everyday life. We spend so much time trying to please others and fulfil our obligations that it’s sometimes at the expense of our own happiness and self-fulfilment. So, start by picking up a hobby that’s just yours, whether that’s a sport, a craft, joining a club or a group. Treat this as your own personal time that’s dedicated just for you and just to make you happy.

10.   Fight that Guilt!

Superwoman is a fictional character! Mere humans can’t possibly compete, so stop feeling guilty for not being there for everyone and everything every time! Sometimes that email will just have to wait, that friend will just have to find someone else to go out with, that laundry will just have to be done another day, and that is perfectly OK. Most people will understand, they will sympathise, and they will move on. A lot of times we fear the worst, when the reality is that the world won’t end if we cannot do it all and that guilt lives mainly in your head. Tell that little voice to just be quiet and in time, it’ll go away!

 

 

These are just 10 ways to improve your work-life balance and to bring some happiness into your life. There’s so much more you can do – feel free to share your own tips and experiences in the comments below.

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