21 Tips to Help You Balance Your Life
I’ve worked since I was 13 years old. Hard work was ingrained in me at a very young age. So by the time that I was 19, I had a full-time job, two part-time jobs, and was a full-time student. Not even severe illnesses slowed me down. But as I got older and looked back, I realized that I wasn’t having a good time…that I was doing to please others, worshipping money, and running from something. It took me a year to compile and successfully apply all of these suggestions, but when I did, I felt such a sense of peace and calm that I knew I’d never make that mistake again.
Well I was wrong, 10 years later, I made the same mistake, except this time, I had two full-time contracts, a husband, cooking classes, writing classes, book clubs, a garden, writing fiction, and when I got severely ill this time, I realized that I was running from myself. My self-worth had become wrapped up in what I did. I stayed busy and flustered to avoid me and to be accepted. So, I got these principles back out, added to them, and reapplied them. I not only have peace and calm, but I enjoy myself, accept myself, and love myself enough to take better care of myself. I know that even in a bad day, there was something good. I don’t take life, my health, my job, my family, or friends for granted. I have learned to Live. Love. Laugh! I hope these suggestions help you gain a new perspective on things and add positively to your life.
Begin each day with purpose.
Each morning, reflect on your purpose for the day for at least 15 minutes. Take that time to read some scriptures, talk to God, or write your To Do List. Write down and recite affirmations that uplift you with positive energy. Prioritize. Organize. Your morning demeanor and thoughts determine the course of your day. Start your day off on a positive note with positive, uplifting, and successful thoughts. Use this time to mentally prepare yourself for a great day.
Make Yourself a Priority.
Take time to do something that you enjoy daily, whether it is exercising, tending to your garden, listening to your favorite jazz, reading a magazine, getting a manicure/pedicure, or taking yourself out to dinner. When you spend the majority of your time expending energy to make your boss or your company happy, your husband and your kids comfortable, or any myriad of things that are on your “To Do List” that have nothing to do with you, at some point you develop negative emotions.
Write a To Do List & focus on one thing at a time.
I write a To Do List for the week and for each day. It keeps me sane. Seeing my tasks written down on paper relegates the importance of each task in my mind. I can eliminate frivolous deeds and concentrate more on priority items. Focus on one task and keep working on it until you finish it. Then cross it off your list. Concentrate on one thing at a time. See that task through, finish it, and mark it off , so that you feel a sense of productivity.
Be realistic in your scheduling.
Stop trying to cram so much stuff into your hours and days. Consider your tasks and meetings and realistically anticipate how long you think it’ll take you to complete the task, drive to your meetings. When you make appointments, space them out enough to allot for traffic, kid emergencies, or a simple rest hour for yourself. Rushing from one deed to another zaps your energy. You also want to be on time…whether you are joining friends at lunch, arriving at work, or participating in a business meeting. When you enlist yourself in time crunches, where you are rushing, you are more apt to forget stuff, be tense and irritable, and stress yourself out…and those around you.
Limit television time.
“People who overdose on television tend to be more depressed than those who watch in moderation. So go ahead and TiVo Oprah and 24, but indulge in other pastimes as well.” Join a book club. Play board games. Plant some flowers.
You don’t even have to think of it as exercise. Dancing around your house for 10 minutes is a form of exercise. Find some exercises that you can do at your desk. Walking up and down steps is a form of exercise. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Don’t look for the closest parking spot; instead, park a little ways off and walk…that is a form of exercise. I take Yoga and Pilates, for mental and physical exercise. Go hiking. Take a Belly Dancing class. Take Salsa lessons. Try some different activities that speed your heart rate. At Aerobics Yoga & More studio, they offer Exotic Dancing and Zumba, which are classes where you do mostly dancing; however, it is also a choreographed cardiac workout with a professional. *As with any exercise, consult your physician first.
Eat small, frequent, healthy meals.
I graze, which means that I eat several small meals per day because my body needs the constant nourishment and metabolizes smaller portions faster than large portions. To make sure that my meals are not oversized, I use a small plate. I always carry healthy snacks with me. Don’t diet, simply decrease the size of your portions. Eat healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, whole wheat, fish, and chicken. Cook with olive oil and fresh herbs. Your body and digestive system will thank you.
Have a strong support cast.
Women are notorious for thinking that they can do everything single-handedly. Not so! Your body and psyche will pay for it in the long run. Have friends that you can share and care with…someone you can pray with. Plan bi-weekly or monthly meetings with your girlfriends to talk, laugh, and love. You are not alone. Don’t try to do it all alone. Plan to see a movie, theatre show, concert, or have dinner. My friends and I have monthly cooking dates, where we specify a theme, and cook several dishes, meet, and have a feast.
Take your cape off.
Okay all of you Superwomen, you get no extra points for doing everything yourself. Others may not do things as you do, but if they can help, let them. Taking on everything because you think that no one else can do it right is a form of arrogance that can eventually be detrimental.
Take time to unwind.
When you get home, take a minute to breathe and relax. Don’t start bustling about in a flurry. You are no good to anyone else or yourself if you are rushed and flustered. Sit down for a minute. Talk to your husband, kids, boyfriend, roommate about their day and share your day too. Read a scripture or two. Have a glass of wine.
Address one issue at a time.
A woman’s work is never done, but don’t take on several issues at once. Even if there are several simultaneous issues, deal with them one at a time, and give yourself a pat on the back each time you resolve an issue. It’s similar to the tasks on your To Do List, where you focus on one item on the list, complete it, and then cross it off. Running a household, coordinating activities, setting up meetings, spearheading projects, running a department, running a business, or running a store are all time consuming and liken to multiple issues occurring simultaneously. Address one thing at a time.
Procrastination is a verb that means “to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.” The fact that the word is a verb, meaning action, is lost on some. To procrastinate takes energy and action, so why not put that energy into the actual task. Procrastination can ruin your day. Get the toughest tasks, the ones you dread the most, out of the way first. Don’t let your tasks pile up to where they seem insurmountable and numerous. If you are a chronic procrastinator, ask yourself why you procrastinate, and write the answer down on a piece of paper. Next, ask yourself which tasks are you more likely to put off, and write that answer down on a piece of paper. Last, ask God (and yourself) why you procrastinate with the tasks. Get to the root of the procrastination, pray it away, and move out of the label ‘procrastinator’.
The most stressful thing I’ve ever done is to attempt to be perfect. There is no such thing. Only Jesus was perfect, and none of us can hold a candle to Him. Allow some things to go undone. My weekly To Do List serves this purpose because if I don’t get a task completed, I can relegate it to the next day (not an excuse for procrastination though). I learned that I don’t have to empty my Inbox or clean all of the dishes out of the sink every night. If I’m tired, I finish the next day. Give yourself a break.
Don’t fret over finances.
In this economy, it is difficult not to fret over finances; however, if your biggest problem is money-related, celebrate because money problems can be fixed. One of the best things that you can do is to save, no matter what the amount. Even if you save 50 cents per week, that money accumulates and adds up. You should also contribute to your 401K, especially if your company matches. Budget, and if that’s not what you really want to do, then at least know exactly how much you have coming in and going out each month. Don’t use credit cards or credit. Pay cash for your purchases, which helps to eliminate emotional and overspending. It’s easy to whip out that debit or credit card because you don’t see the funds leaving your account, but with cash, you can visually see that money dwindling as you spend. Saving , budgeting, and paying cash can offer peace of mind no matter what the economy is. My favorite financial guru is Dave Ramsey. You can visit him at www.daveramsey.com.
“Clutter creates visual noise that distracts us from the task at hand. Freeing up space frees you to focus energy on what is important.” Cluttered space causes a cluttered mind, and a cluttered mind is spastic. Throw away items that you don’t need. File away items that you need, but don’t need to see. Organize. Create a space for everything, and then put items in their perspective spaces. If you’ve never been very good at organizing, try this simple task. In your closet, put all of the dresses together, all of your pants together, long-sleeved blouses together, short-sleeved tops together, belts in one area. Just put like items together. Pat yourself on the back when you accomplish this, then methodically move on to other areas of your life and organize them likewise.
Plan a vacation.
You can plan vacations months to years in advance. Give yourself something to look forward to. Reward yourself. Save to pay for the vacation and so that you’ll have money while you are on vacation. Make sure you vacation with someone likeminded as you. Bad vacations occur when you are with someone whose vision of the vacation and activities differs from yours. Agree to disagree.
Get proper sleep.
Lack of sleep not only leaves you fatigued and irritable, but it also adversly affects your skin. While you sleep, your skin repairs and rejuvenates itself, so when you don’t get enough sleep, it shows in your face. It is also best to sleep on your back because it diminishes the affects of gravity on your face. Sleeping on your stomach can cause morning puffiness because all of the days fluids pool in your face. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.
Attract peace, love, and joy each day.
Each morning when you wake up, remind yourself that you will attract peace, love, and joy. Give yourself about 10 minutes each morning to reflect on what is peaceful, loving, and joyful. Take those images and words with you all day. Don’t let anyone else’s attitude, words, or demeanor remove your peace, love, and joy. You cannot control people, but you can control your reaction to them. Pray for the difficult people in your life. Everyday you have something to be thankful for, something to celebrate, something that makes you smile, dance, laugh, clap your hands, and giggle.
Learn to say NO.
One of the most calming, peaceful things that I did was to learn that everyone else’s emergency wasn’t my emergency. If you cannot do it, don’t want to do it, or cannot make time to do it, say NO. Don’t overburdern and over task yourself to please or impress others. Don’t be afraid to say NO.
Worrying is an empty activity that yields no returns. It takes lots of energy and lots of time, but there are no benefits at all to worrying. Worrying can age you prematurely and is linked to illnesses, such as high blood pressure. There is nothing that God can’t change. Anything that you loose, that gets reposesed or forclosed on, God can provide 10 times better. Put your energy into something that does yield returns, praying, faithfulness, and joy. In the Bible, God and Jesus tell us a number of times “Do not worry.”
Not encouraging you to overspend or to spend what you don’t have, but if you are financially able right now, take yourself to dinner or buy yourself a nice outfit. Treat yourself to a day at the Spa. Get a facial. Get a massage. Get a manicure and a pedicure. Go to the salon and get a new or updated hair style. Get a makeover. Take a long, warm bath with candles illuminating. Smile at yourself in the mirror, and appreciate who you are. There is no one else like you.
© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram