At one time or another, nearly everyone struggles to balance the demands of work and family. Work isn’t necessarily associated with a career – it can be volunteer work, or tasks associated with a hobby or passion. And family can be a spouse, siblings, a much–loved pet or an aging parent.
So, it goes without saying that nearly everyone – including stay–at–home moms and professionals with no children – experiences the frustration and ensuing stress of being tugged at from different directions and feeling like there’s just not enough time in the day.
What’s even more complicated is that these feelings of anxiety, frustration or hopelessness often multiply, says life coach and intuitive teacher Amy Piper.
“Stress is not only created by a response to an external situation or event – a lot of daily stress is created by ongoing attitudes or recurring feelings of agitation, worry, anxiety, anger, judgments, resentment, insecurities and self–doubt,” Piper says. “These emotions are known to drain our emotional energy while we are engaging in everyday life. This leads to more fatigue and an endless cycle of negative emotions.
Piper says that finding balance starts with defining your identity and recognizing your personal mission in life. It means knowing who you are and what matters most, so that you honor your priorities in the way you want and need to honor them rather than adhering to society’s or someone else’s expectations.
“When your mind and emotions are balanced – when you are in heart coherence – your physical systems function more efficiently, resulting in emotional stability, mental clarity and improved cognitive function,” she says.
Here are a few tips Piper says can help balance out your world:
- Clearly define who you are and what’s important, and prioritize accordingly. Start the day with a list of priorities that are intimately related to the larger goals of your work, and then give yourself a 6 p.m. deadline to complete them. In the meantime, commit to the larger values in your life – relationships, exercise, spirituality and fun – in a concrete way by putting those activities on your calendar.
- Establish routines and habits that support the goals you deem important. Habits (good and bad) become the cornerstones of your lifestyle over time. For example, if long–term health and vitality are important to you, incorporate walking into your daily routine, and plan family time that’s activity–centered. The steps add up over the weeks and years, and can make a huge difference. And don’t forget your vision. Remember to protect your eyes from the sun, take breaks from your electronic devices and schedule regular eye exams.
- Eliminate or reduce time suckers (activities or people) that don’t add value to your life and support your long–term goals or mission. You need to know how to recognize and hold honest boundaries in relationships, remaining true to your own needs while being connected to other people.
- Delegate tasks that are not important to your goals. This means you must recognize that some things just don’t matter – being an awesome cupcake baker is not essential to being a loving mother. Hire someone else to bake your cupcakes or turn the baking experience into a project you can enjoy with your child.
- Be present and experience the fullness of the moment. If you’re off the clock, unplug from work, set your phone aside and immerse yourself in the present situation and company without burdening yourself with guilt, frustration or anxiety. Engage in authentic conversations with your family members and enjoy their company without being distracted or otherwise preoccupied.
Learn to recognize when imbalance is creating stress and be deliberate about honoring your priorities. You’ll be happier and healthier – mentally, spiritually and physically.