Work-life balance. Is this a real thing, or just a unicorn that so many of us are endlessly searching for? And what exactly does work-life balance even mean anyway?
While each of us interprets something a bit different from it, the basic principle is that it means having a satisfying amount of time available outside of work for our personal lives. Some of us may need more time for joyful things than others do to feel a sense of balance—but the key is to find the recipe that works best for you.
Setting aside just a few hours a week can be enough to bring down your stress level, decrease your fatigue, and reduce your risk for burnout. With so many of us torn between juggling heavy workloads, managing relationships and family responsibilities, and squeezing in outside interests, it is no surprise that more than one in four Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” And that’s not balanced—or healthy.
Here are 5 things you can do to help create more balance in your life.
Always Have Something Planned to Look Forward To
Routinely, having something on the horizon to look forward to will work wonders for helping to create a more balanced feeling in your day-to-day life. The excitement of an upcoming trip or special plan can often make it easier to get through the workday/week. Simply knowing there will be some fun, relaxation, and stress relief up ahead will help make the time spent working more enjoyable and more productive. Planning something meaningful and joyful is an important part of adding to the quality of our time spent away from work. Here are some ideas of things you can do:
- Have a night out with friends planned often.
- Have consistent date nights scheduled with your spouse or significant other.
- Plan a vacation or short get-a-way quarterly.
- Schedule time for phone calls with old or current friends.
- Enroll in a class that interests you (cooking, art, dance, woodworking, online course).
- Plan regular time off for personal wellness and self-care.
Planning is only part of the fun, so be sure to follow through and stay consistent with your plans!
Get Into a Good Book or TV Series
Sometimes it doesn’t take anything more than a good book or a good tv series to help us find some balance and joy in our life. The anticipation of picking up where you left off to see what your favorite character is going to do next might be something you find yourself looking forward to more than you’d expect. So let go of the stresses of the workday by indulging yourself with some time spent on shameless fiction.
The benefits of reading or watching fiction are simply that it provides enjoyment and pleasure and an escape from the boredom and stress that goes along with our everyday work and routine. Be sure you end your time reading or watching in just the right spot so that the suspense will carry you through until next time!
Maintain an Exercise Program
Regular exercise is not just good for our general health—it is great for our mental health too! Consistent exercise creates an escape from the stresses of the day and can help us balance feelings of depression and anxiety. Routinely getting our heart rate up and endorphins pumping can set the stage for a more balanced life. Exercise can be a great way to set the mood for the upcoming workday or a great tool to help you let go of the day’s work.
If participating in a group fitness program, you can make connections with and find motivation from people doing the same. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking forward to lacing up your shoes and grabbing your water bottle on the daily.
Try Something New
It is easy to get caught up in our regular, monotonous routines. They are easy, comfortable, and what we know works for us. But there is great value in stepping outside of our comfort zones and finding something new to explore.
You may be surprised at how much more joy and sense of contentment you can find in your days by changing things up—even just a bit. Instead of hitting the same restaurants in the same part of town, make it a point to try something new each week. Attend a new event, make a new meal, sit at a different table at your local coffee shop—you just may find that adding a little more variety to your life will help you find the balance you’ve been craving.
Volunteer For a Cause Close to Your Heart
Futility is one of the biggest reasons why many of us feel unfulfilled. We often get stuck in our routines. Giving back to the community gives you a greater sense of purpose. You wake up each day knowing you’re doing something meaningful, and you look forward to each encounter where you will affect positive change on people who have impacted your own heart.
When you spend time volunteering, the impact you make on others’ lives can help bring a sense of balance to your own life in unexpected and rewarding ways.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” –Dale Carnegie