Continuing with the topic of balance I thought I would share some tips for finding balance in our busy lives. Keep in mind that finding balance is a very individual quest. What follows are approaches that have worked for me at various times and ideas discussed with friends.
Meditation: I originally considered meditation a throw back to the days of hippies; getting groovy and earthy. When I started practicing yoga we often spent some time in meditation. It was hard sitting still and letting my mind quiet. Yet over time it really seemed to work. A moment of stillness calmed me, created focus, and relieved the stress. If you’re afraid of meditating because you might fall asleep, that is ok too. Your body is telling you something and giving you what you need. Meditation doesn’t take a long time or fancy equipment. Just sit or lie down, close your eyes, and breathe. Focusing on your breathing is all you need to do.
Take a Deep Breath: Sometimes just taking a deep breath is all you need to reset. You know the ol’ drill “In through your nose and out through your mouth.” Or just breath through your nose. The simple act of breathing has kept me sane when stuck in traffic. And it does wonders when I feel I’m at my breaking point.
Walking: This seems like a no-brainer. Walking is like meditation in motion. Walk slowly and enjoy the scenery. Walk with intent and pound out your frustrations. Either way you clear your head and get some exercise to boot. A great two-for-one deal.
Setting Goals: I’m still not very good at doing this. Yet when running a business you have to have some idea of what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Pick one or two goals. It can be a “big, hairy goal” (BHAG) or something smaller. Then think about how you’ll accomplish it. What small steps lead to that big step? It can be fun to do this with a pad of sticky notes. Big goal in the middle and all the little steps surround it. Don’t be overwhelmed with the big goal. Take it one little step at a time.
The To-Do List: I know not everyone likes to-do lists. For me they help to organize my thoughts and keep me from feeling too overwhelmed. Try to make your to-do list in the evening. It helps prepare you for the following day. It may clear your mind so you’ll sleep a little better and not be kept awake by all the things you’ve got to do. Prioritize the items on the list. I just started doing this after avoiding it for a long time and it seems to help. And if you feel you can’t write a list because there are just too many things to do, make this the first thing you write on the list: “Make a list.” It will be the first thing you can cross off the list.
Setting Boundaries: Another toughie. We all have many responsibilities; work, home, children, spouses, partners, parents, etc. Yet many of us still feel something is missing in our spun out crazy lives. What is missing may be YOU. You stopped doing something you loved. You stopped taking care of yourself. Giving of ourselves is often easier than taking/accepting for ourselves, especially as women. Set aside some time each week, even if it is only an hour, to do something for yourself. Tell your family this is “your time” and you’re not to be disturbed. Soak in the tub. Read a magazine. Go for a walk. Make art. Sleep if that is what you need. Do it for yourself. You’re not being selfish. You’re rejuvinating yourself so that you can be even better for others.
Turn off the TV: Sometimes I need to be a lump, sit on the couch, and watch some brainless program on TV. But afterwhile I feel like my brain cells are starting to leak out my ears. An article in this Sunday’s Boston Globe stated that we actually have more leisure time due to advances in technology over the past couple of decades. Unfortunately we’re filling a good part of that alleged leisure time with the television. If you enjoy certain programs, I don’t think you should deny yourself that enjoyment. (Don’t bother me on Wednesday evenings when LOST is on.) But I know when I find myself just flipping through the channels it is time to get off the couch.
Kill Your Computer: Ok, not literally but to paraphrase a slogan from a few years ago. The internet and email are two of those great technological advances mentioned above. We can locate more information (good, bad, and brainless) than ever before. We can communicate with more people more quickly than ever. The problem is we can locate more information (good, bad, and brainless) than ever before and we can communicate with more people more quickly than ever. I’m as guilty as the next person. I can spend lots of time on the computer. Sometimes it is because I’m bored. Sometimes I’m avoiding some other task. Either way it is a time suck. Try to set boundaries on your computer usage. Check your email first thing in the morning and again in the evening. Respond to those items requiring attention and flag those less pressing emails for later.
Say “No”: I don’t know if it is our generation or societal or some thing innate in our personalities but many of us get stuck in the “I’ll just do it because I know it will get done” mantra. And then what happens? People always expect you to do it. All of us have probably been on both sides of this mantra (you do it all/you let someone else always do it.) What is wrong with saying “no” sometimes? It isn’t as if you’re walking away from everything but just at this particular time you can’t take on the specific task or responsibility. Can you delegate it or share it? Or perhaps this is the time to make a complete change and let someone else enjoy the experience.
So there is my list of some ways that might help you find balance. It isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. And I know it is often easier said than done. I fall off balance just as easily as the next person. And when that happens I think about what I need to do to reset myself. And sometimes it involves stacking rocks in our yard.
What do you do to find balance?