It’s easy to get stuck in the grind, especially when it comes to work. You want to get ahead, find success and can almost feel a ‘high’ or sense of ‘keeping up with everyone else’ when you work hard. And while working hard is admirable, it may not always be healthy.
When you work too hard, your health may start to suffer – whether it’s your sleep, your diet, or even your overall sense of calm and appreciation for life. What’s worse: your kids, friends and loved ones may take notice and suffer right along with you.
When we don’t find a healthy work/life balance, our personal lives may fall out of tune, and it might even affect our productivity levels and creativity at work, too.
“If you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.” – Miles Davis.
If you fall behind and start feeling burnt out or are noticing your sleep, overall happiness or health is suffering – it’s ok. It’s just a wake up call.
This article is about how to find the ‘right note’ when you’ve gone too far into the grind. When your wellbeing is on-point (or close to), your work will be too: past research shows that resting and taking more time for ourselves stimulates creativity, helps you focus better and allows you to get far more done in a lot less time.
Here’s how to let yourself off the hook and give yourself a break.
When it comes to your work life and cultivating harmony, the rule of thumb is to find a 50/50 balance. Balance in and of itself assumes a half-half split, which creates a push and pull, so when you’re working too much, the part of you that needs rest and calm starts to tug at your sleeve – and if you’ve been ‘out of office’ for too long, you’ll feel the nudge to get back to work.
Have you ever noticed the feeling you have after being on vacation or after a long weekend? You feel more rested, creative and raring to get back to work.
This is what we want to establish – harmony in our work/life balance, so we’re not avoiding our work, we’re instead, putting our well-being first so that when we do work, it’s easier and more productive.
Harmony creates a feeling of peace when we shift from one responsibility to another – so rather than stressing or frantically moving from one thing to the next, we do some calmly and with confidence so our stress levels stay down.
So, what can we do?
You may be thinking, this is all well and great, Lauren, but how do I actually do this in my own chaotic life?
Simple. Start with putting things in order.
- Breathe – Okay, okay this may seem obvious. But when you’re in a high cortisol state and are just trying to get through the day to get to your to-do list, taking a long, deep breath (or several breaths) becomes more important than ever. When we experience missteps, it reminds us that we need air. Go outside, take a few breaths, and recenter.
- Reset – whether it’s a 5-minute reset in the middle of your day, or a two-week reset to a remote caribbean island, we all need to pause when things feel off. We can’t do good work (or be great parents, partners or friends), when things feel out of sorts. What can we cross off the to-do list and what can we start again?
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” —Stephen Covey
Do this for your future self
It might feel like a big adjustment taking a few steps back and taking more breaths – because there’s just too much to get done, Lauren! You may be thinking. I hear you and I get it. I used to be there too.
But the reality is – I knew that if I didn’t slow my roll and take a good, hard look at my health and how I operated everyday, I would never be here talking to you fabulous people about slowing the heck down and creating more space in your mind to do better work and have better health and relationships. It’s also about doing whatever you need to do to create peace of mind, so maybe it isn’t resting right now, but carving out rest for your near future.
Here’s an example:
Ask yourself: does my present self always love unloading the dishwasher? No! But does my future self love my past self when it’s empty and ready to go? YES.
Say no, far more often.
I get it – saying no in a world of ‘yes’ is hard. Does your present self want to say yes, knowing your future self will not want to at the time? Get to know yourself and think for a few beats before saying yes and committing to something you’ll later regret. This will significantly save your energy in the long-run, folks.
Quit something. Or many things.
I know this can be hard… but we can’t do it all. Even if it’s something small, take a look at your schedule and note: what engagements, coffee dates, meetings or classes are you not totally psyched about? Drop them. If it’s something that’s meaningful to your heart or that you love doing, keep it. But if you’re doing it out of obligation (or if it’s weighing on your stress), nix it. Your future self will thank you.
What to do if you’re feeling out of sorts.
We can’t feel good or perfect everyday. Here’s what to do if you’re feeling ‘off’.
- Quit trying to be perfect and give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook and say ‘it’s okay’.
- Make a homemade meal. It’s delicious, it’s nutritious and it’s a fun and relaxing activity you can truly enjoy (whether alone or with a friend or loved one).
- Quit having the water with lemon before coffee. If you need and love coffee first (it’s me!) then quit. Don’t torture yourself.
- Dance. It. Out. Literally and figuratively. The way out of overwhelm is to find the beat that lights you up. The rhythm that ignites your soul and helps find a bridge from chaos to calm.
When life circumstances happen…
- Remember it’s normal. We can’t control it all: life doesn’t flow like a river – it’s less of a predictable “we will rock you” and more like a “bohemian rhapsody” – a large, free-flowing dramatic piece of work. Take care of yourself in the chaotic times and relish and enjoy the peaceful times.
- I don’t think life is meant to make sense. We are meant to find joy in our lives, especially in the small things, and this is why gratitude is so popular right now. When life feels uncertain, look up and find a little piece of peace to keep in your pocket.
- Be still. Sometimes if life is too loud and too much, the only way is stillness. Stillness has the power to keep us calm and bring us out of a funk.
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