The demands being placed on your time are probably greater than they’ve ever been. To manage this effectively requires a steady commitment to finding work-life balance and to thinking differently about how you can find your center of renewal, moment-to-moment, day-to-day, week-to-week.
Work-life balance is dynamic and changing all the time. It isn’t a fixed thing you can lock down and then forget about. Our bodies, relationships and even our businesses are in a constant state of flux and change. Our schedules can change quickly. The needs of others can change dramatically from one day to the next. The workplace is under more and more pressure to respond quickly to changing marketplace.
Here are three ways you can improve your balancing act on a daily basis.
Imbalance is not the problem. It is fundamental to life. The problem is when you don’t respond to the imbalance. When you’re under pressure, it’s especially important to notice when you’re moving off-balance. Remember the teeter-totter when you were a kid? The balance could be thrown off with even a slight shift in your body movement or in the movement of the other person. And with a small shift, it could be re-established.
It’s important to recognize the indicators of imbalance. If things are going well, a slight shift away from balance can be recognized and measures can be put into place to get back on track. We need to notice the signals that point to imbalance and a need for an adjustment. For example, your body might indicate imbalance through fatigue, irritability, or an unhealthy craving. In a relationship you might feel resentful, distrustful, or disconnected.
Make Micro-adjustments to support work-life balance
Look for the small ways you can make an adjustment to restore your balance. These are ones you can make when schedules and demands are very tight and you only have a few minutes to refresh. Micro-adjustments are remarkably powerful in supporting greater balance and higher performance without making major changes, such as the number of hours your work.
If you know you need to make a major adjustment in your lifestyle, your work overall, or in an important relationship, you can’t really address these on the fly. However, if you mark them and make a commitment to return to them in a conscious, deliberate way, you are making a micro-adjustment that can restore some balance right away.
One of the most effective micro-adjustments you can make is taking a short break every 90-120 minutes. Your mind and body function at their best with these short pauses for renewal. For example, in the middle of a busy day, get up and stretch. If you only have a moment, try bending your knees slightly and slowly bend forward, drop your head and gently sway for a minute or two. If you can get away from your desk, go up and down the stairs, or walk outside for 10-20 minutes if possible.
Create Renewal Rituals
A renewal ritual is a small adjustment that you do over an over again in a regular way, to increase both your effectiveness and your energy. When you create a ritual, it can more easily become a life-enhancing habit that you do without having to give it much thought.
Here are some of my favorite rituals that have been tried and tested by thousands of people. They can be practiced almost anywhere, including work.
- Gently roll your head. Scratch your scalp if that feels good. Massage around your hairline and the bony ridge around your eyes.
- Breathe deeply. Then exhale slowly for 5-6 seconds. While doing this, try holding one hand on you abdomen and one on your heart. It’s very soothing, especially if you feel upset, anxious or angry.
- Imagine the best. Visualize positive outcomes.
- Drink lots of water—before turning to sugar, caffeine or alcohol.
- When you take a break, use those few moments alone to relax, remember who you are, what is important to you, and why you want to be alive. Bathroom breaks are great for this!
- Express appreciation. Say what you value and appreciate to someone else. This will help increase your own feeling of well-being.
- Find something to laugh about.
- Listen to music that you find inspiring or energizing. Dance a little. Or a lot.
Do you have any favorite renewal rituals or tips for finding quick balance? How effective are they in the long run?
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