Are you feeling a bit out of balance? You’re not alone. Balancing demands of work, family and the rest of life can be a challenge and create stress. This can be especially true when trying to take advantage of all the summer activity possibilities. Additionally, too little sleep, lack of exercise and infrequent personal time can add to stress. When stress is not managed well, individuals can become overwhelmed and experience emotional exhaustion, burnout or other negative feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with work-life stress and aim toward a more healthy balance. Consider some of the following tips to find balance and enjoy the summer months:
- Prioritize. Setting priorities will help in deciding how to best spend your time. Use a calendar and schedule the most important things that reflect your priorities first, such family vacations or a date with a significant other. Discuss goals and schedules with family members and significant others often so everyone is invested. Remember, there is no “right way” to prioritize, but rather you have to decide a balance that is comfortable for you and your family.
- Be here now. In this age of technology it is easy to get distracted by things other than our priorities, especially when work or social media is just a click away. Taking a break from electronics and focusing on living fully in the moment, wherever you may be, will help to reduce stress.
- Set realistic goals and expectations. Let’s be honest, as much as many of us would like to give everything to everyone all the time, it’s unrealistic and thinking that way will cause conflict and stress. So, instead, examine your priorities and adapt your goals and expectations to fit your current situation. If married or in a relationship, be sure to include your partner in this process and discuss the roles that each of you will take. Revise plans and goals that don’t work—achieving balance is an ongoing process.
- Share the load. Some people try to reduce stress by taking control and doing everything themselves; but doing so can sometimes keep them from reaching their most important goals. Consider your support system and how others might be willing to help lighten the load. Remember, delegation is a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Take care of yourself. It can be challenging to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep, let alone squeeze in a few minutes of “me” time, but taking care of yourself will help you in all areas of your life. Make a goal to take at least 15 minutes of “me” time every day even if it’s to take a quick walk on a break at work, or to read a book. Remember you can also include family or friends
- Keep a sense of humor. Humor can help to manage stress when things don’t work out as planned. Consider, “How will I think about this situation in a year from now?”
While there are many approaches to creating balance, what works for one individual may not work for another, and life challenges and possible solutions may change with time. Creating and maintaining a balance in life is an ongoing process; if the current approach isn’t working, try something else. The balance may not always be perfect, but small efforts toward balance can still have a tremendous impact on life satisfaction.
- Graham, J. (n.d.) Balancing work and family. University of Maine, Bulletin #4186. http://umaine.edu/publications/4186e/
- Lawler, M. K., Robertson, J., & Hankins, K. (n.d.) Balancing family and work. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service., T-2233. http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2421/T-2233web.pdf
- Mayo Clinic Staff (2015, June 13). Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/work-life-balance/art-20048134