Be the compass of your life
Reclaiming balance in your busy life is a challenge for a lot of women. Here’s how to take control.
DO MORE. BE MORE. HUSTLE. SOUND FAMILIAR?
FRAZZLED. LOST. STRESSED. EXHAUSTED. FEEL FAMILIAR?
Without your own personal strategies and habits (ones that work for you) these trends will probably continue. It’s time to align your life in the ways you choose, instead of letting life choose for you. It’s time to set your own priorities and take back control of your own schedule.
The current speed and intensity we’re working, along with the pressures and expectations with this constant busyness of life, leaves many women lost in the sea of “trying to keep up.” We feel the sting of judgement, comparison, and stiff competition.
We’re all on board with self-care to feel and be our best, while also receiving messages to push harder and longer— but at what cost?
So many of us are feeling out of balance. Living a fast-paced life can feel like we are running, but going nowhere fast, while building up stress, tension, and longer to-do lists. This can lead to conflict with ourselves and others. If we aren’t mindful, it can result in anxiety, depression, or burnout— which was recently labeled as an official medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization.
Over time, poor life balance can have a negative impact on physical health. Studies show it can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, fertility challenges and sleep disorders.
I’M THE BOSS OF ME
Living a balanced life requires reflection, awareness, and effort—so let’s dive in and learn how to be the compass of our own lives.
Finding balance starts with getting back to you. It’s less about looking outside ourselves and more about turning inward to become more aligned with our own values and goals.
Let go of the belief that you are able to stretch out time so that you can complete everything on your “to-do” list. Instead, create better habits and a plan to help guide you to a place that makes you feel more calm, aligned, and free.
6 Steps to reclaim your life balance
1. PRIORITY LIST
Creating this list is the foundation of how you will make choices to balance the aspects of your life. Knowing your priorities helps to identify where you need to spend your resources (time, energy, attention) and how to allocate them.
Priorities shift as our lives ebb and flow, which allows us to make empowered choices based on our changing priorities. But first we need to identify what is most important to us.
Once you have this list, be specific and note why each item is meaningful to you. Knowing your “why” helps to anchor the priority and will enable you to make more concrete choices about decisions going forward.
2. TAKE BACK CONTROL
We are all responsible for our own busyness. We can’t shift the blame to outside forces after we have agreed to all of our obligations that now take up space in our schedule.
When you know what is within your control, you can optimize how you allocate your time and energy. When considering elements of life balance, be aware of what you control:
- How you manage your schedule and book appointments
- How you take care of yourself
- How you respond to others—toyour relationships
- How you respond to your thoughts
- How you use your values for motivation
- How you set and communicate your boundariesBe the boss of your schedule. When someone asks you to do something (meet up, start a project, look over a document, attend an event… the list goes on), there is that precious moment of opportunity, a pause, where you have the time to say no, or say something like, “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” or “Sounds great, but I’ll have to pass due to other commitments.”
Remember, you are in control of most of your schedule. It’s time to make the decisions for all the commitments that come your way. To pause and make a choice about them that is right for you going forward.
You can take back control of your devices, too. A lot of the time, being over-active on social media can prohibit you from being productive in other areas of your life. Doing things such as setting time limits on social media, curating your feed, and limiting how many notifications are turned on are all helpful to ensure you aren’t staring at your phone all day long.
Taking care of yourself is crucial to bringing yourself back to a place of equilibrium. Give yourself permission to rest. Ask what will give back to your mind and body.
Scan your body at regular intervals to be in tune with your energy levels to determine if you are giving away too much of yourself. Paying attention to your body a few times a day provides a wealth of information on the levels of tension, pain, energy, and stress. This will help you make better choices for the remainder of your day.
Block off time in your day for movement. Enjoying gentle daily movement that still offers fitness benefits has long-term positive impacts, both mentally and physically. As little as 10 minutes a day can boost your mood and productivity.
Sleep hygiene is also important to recharge your body to ensure you
are ready to tackle each day at your best. Developing a routine for sleep is critical to maintaining balanced mental, emotional, and physical health. Sleep helps you stay focussed during the day, regulate your mood, and feel more productive and functional.
Eating well is another key to maintaining energy and focus. Besides nutrition, eat for joy, taste, celebration, and as a way to connect with family and friends.
4. KNOW YOUR WORTH
What do you value? Giving thought to what you attach your worth to is
an important exercise when aligning your life. If you say “yes” to too many material things, then your life tends to get out of balance. Saying yes to consuming more and more can lead to doing more and more. This may lead to a place of living an over-scheduled, out-of-balance life.
Setting boundaries by telling others what you need is key to getting what you need. Ask for help to gain the support you require to follow through on your wants and needs. Know the value of your time and set boundaries around sharing it with others. Sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to yourself.
For example, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise—it is key to know your worth and ask for it. Know that you are also more than a pay cheque. Be strong and know where your growth opportunities lie. Recognizing and honouring your value in the workplace and at home can stoke your self-esteem and help you know your worth outside your body—and help project your sense of self-worth to others.
Build compassion and patience, and let go of judgement and comparison. This will help you get back to yourself in the most balanced way. This is the path we need to seek to align our lives—to reset our life compass.
Cultivating compassion for ourselves and practicing non-judgement shows kindness to ourselves and in turn finds balance with our inner critic. Embracing acceptance is one way to let go of the idea of perfection and move towards self-love.
6. LONG-TERM BALANCE
To keep your life balance compass on point, it’s critical to recognize when your priorities shift. As you move through life’s seasons, you can recalibrate and align your choices with them. Remember, in many cases you get to decide what fills your schedule, who you spend time with, how you take care of your body, and how you plan for the future and respond to situations.
Everyone has a different definition of balance. The important thing is that you adjust the dial to find what feels right for you. If you need to focus on yourself, empty a slot in your schedule and go to a yoga class, go for a walk
in the park, or write in a journal. If you need to work on your relationships, practice putting your phone down and giving the other person 100% of your attention when you’re with them. It’s all about trial and error—you have to find what works for you and your life.
Keep your eyes and heart wide open because your life is so much more than crossing off to-do lists, meeting other’s expectations, and creating highlight reels. All the stuff that leaves you feeling unsatisfied and out of control.
More Inspiration: Check out this inspiring article on finding your heart space.
Author: Doris Ward is mind-body coach that helps others build their fitness, body confidence and resiliency through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is an award-winning fitness professional who leads running, goal setting and body image workshops, as well as specialized yoga classes for chronic pain management and for those who have experienced trauma. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine. You can read more about her work here.