I was out for a walk by the lake this morning and noticed a fleet of boats from the nearby sailing school’s ‘Learn to Sail’ program. I watched in fascination as the sailboats would tip to one side and, just when I thought they were going to overturn, the students would shift their body weight and bring the boats back in balance.
Life is like that, isn’t it? We’re sailing along happily and then, and out of nowhere, something happens and we’re thrown off balance. Maybe it’s an illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job – it could even be a positive change, like a new baby or a move to our dream house – but it can still throw our lives out of balance.
I don’t know that we can avoid these ‘gusts of wind’ entirely. But what we can do is be prepared to weather the storms by getting our lives back in balance – before it’s too late.
If the sailing students waited even a few more seconds before moving to get their sailboats level, they would be thrown into Lake Ontario. Of course, they would be wearing a personal floatation device so they’d be okay. If only we could wear a PFD to stop us from drowning when we feel overwhelmed by life’s demands.
Just like sailing, keeping our lives in balance requires learning some practical skills and strategies…
Top 10 Ways to Balance Your Life
- Become good at delegating – you don’t have to do it all. In fact, by sharing the workload, you are helping others develop skills and increase self-esteem.
- Avoid overscheduling yourself (and your children). Learn to say ‘no’ when there’s too much on your plate. If you have trouble with the word ‘no’, find another way to turn down the request, i.e. “Thank you but I think I’ll pass this time.”
- Avoid multitasking – give important tasks your undivided attention. Doing several things at once has been scientifically proven to impair memory, increase stress, and decrease productivity – leaving us feeling exhausted and unfulfilled.
- Take time for you – take regular breaks, both short and long. Take short breaks between tasks, even if it’s to get up and look out the window. Do at least one thing you find relaxing every day. Take holidays and long weekends.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people – choose good listeners with your best interests in mind and who make you feel good when you are around them.
- Book a date night with yourself and do what you want to do. Also schedule regular date nights with your significant other to keep the relationship fresh. Plan the dates in advance so you have something to look forward to.
- Avoid working late or bringing work home unless it’s the occasional urgent project. If you are tempted to stay late, schedule something after work that forces you (or gives you a good excuse) to leave on time (i.e. gym class, dinner date).
- Listen to your body. If you are tired, get some sleep. If you are hungry, have healthy snacks readily available until the next meal. If you are irritable, go for a walk and figure out what’s bothering you.
- Get outdoors – spend time in nature. Go to a park, a beach or the mountains. Turn your cell phone off, even for just few minutes, and enjoy the surroundings without distractions.
- Get physical. Exercise will reenergize you. Go to the gym, go for a bike ride or a run, or get involved in a sport. Find something you enjoy doing and see if you can find a friend to join you.
Try some of these suggestions and see how much better you’ll feel. Finding the right balance will help you feel more relaxed, fulfilled and in control of your life. What’s your favorite way to balance your life? Please share in the comments below: