Life is one big balancing act.
Between work, family life, your social life and time for yourself, it’s no wonder you feel out of sync.
Finding time for everything important is a skill, like learning to ride a bike. It takes practice and it’s OK if you fall off and have to try again a few times. In the long run, you’ll be able to bring happiness and balance to your life by doing the little things each day that have BIG impacts.
Here are 15 simple ways to stay balanced and healthy even when you’re busy.
#1 – Let go of control
The fact of life is, you’re never going to be 100% in control. Whether it’s an alarm you slept through, a traffic jam that’s making you late, or a colleague who won’t accept your work ideas, unexpected events will pop up.
Instead of fighting these events and trying to control every aspect of your life, practice going with the flow. When you acknowledge you’re not in control every second of the day, it’s easier to feel balanced knowing you’re controlling what you can – and not stressing about the things you can’t.
#2 – Drink more water
You’ve got a headache, you’re feeling irritable, and your body just wants to rest.
These are common symptoms, but before you schedule a trip to the GP or order a box of expensive multivitamins off eBay, try drinking water. Keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day makes it easy to stay hydrated and with mild dehydration negatively impacting mood, you’ll be surprised at what a difference more water makes.
#3 – Recharge your batteries
A 5-day vacation to the nearest tropical island would probably help refill your energy but it’s not the most realistic goal. To recharge your batteries you’ll need to identify what your passions are and what restores your energy when you’re feeling flat or unbalanced.
Maybe you love to knit, or paint, or draw, or sing, or write, or spend time with friends, or spend time alone.
There’s no right or wrong answer. But when you feel out of sync, going back to basics to spend time doing what you love can help bring balance to your life.
#4 – Get your body moving
Let’s be honest, heading to the gym even when you do have spare time isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But finding creative ways to get your body moving is a simple bio hack that releases endorphins which lower levels of stress, fatigue and depression.
You only need 10 minutes of exercise to start enjoying these benefits, so find ways to fit physical activity into your routine. Work in the office? Take the stairs instead of the lift. Looking after the kids? Run around the backyard with the little ones.
Even a brisk walk can make you feel energised and healthy. So get your body moving to feel happy and balanced.
#5 – Spend time with loved ones
When it’s you against the world it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and upset, but add in a pinch of family and a dash of friends and you’ve got a team to help you overcome the challenges that come with a busy lifestyle.
Of course, since you’re busy it can be tough to find time to be with friends or family. Try getting creative with video calls (think Zoom or Skype) or good old fashioned phone calls (yes, people still call each other).
#6 – Be specific
When you’re busy, whether it’s at home or at work, it’s tough to know where to start when you’ve got a long list of goals to achieve.
You can take back control and feel balanced by being specific with your time. For example “I’m going to clean the house today” is broad and leaves a lot of room for failure if you end up distracted and can’t get to your Spring Clean.
Instead of feeling frustrated you let yourself down, try saying “I will clean the kids playroom at 11:00am until 12:00pm”.
Specificity is the secret to being more efficient with your time, and when you’re in control of your time you’ll feel happier and more secure.
#7 – Get more sleep
Not that you need science to tell you that. Think about those mornings you’ve rolled out of bed on a few hours sleep, your body aching and your head foggy. Lack of sleep slows down your body and makes it hard for you to regulate how you’re feeling.
To get scientific for a moment, the amygdala is the emotional centre of your brain which houses your fight or flight feelings of stress, anxiety and fear. When your brain is well-rested the prefrontal cortex keeps the amygdala in check so you feel balanced, happy and in control.
In short, sleep more to feel happier!
#8 – Smile
It’s tough to find something to smile about when you’re rushing from work to daycare, or trying to get home to Skype with a FIFO partner, but smiling is a simple (and free) way to boost your mood.
Smiling releases serotonin – your body’s ‘feel good’ chemical.
By having a giggle throughout the day you’ll be helping your brain stay balanced and regulating your mood. This could be your favourite comedy videos on YouTube, remembering the last time your kids made you laugh, or even forcing yourself to smile – that’s right, the brain can’t tell the difference between a real or forced smile so you’re always in control.
#9 – Ask for help
You’re busy…but you’re not alone.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but a show of strength that you’re open and honest about your feelings and needs. Everything in your routine feels important (and it is) but if there’s something a friend or family member can help with then don’t be afraid to ask.
Can your relatives look after the kids for a while? Can a friend stop at the shops on their way home for you? Can a colleague lend a hand to help you complete your project sooner?
If your coping strategy is to try and do everything yourself, you’ll notice your stress levels dropping when you start sharing the load.
Are you struggling with career or work issues? Discover how to gain control at work here
#10 – Set priority tasks
Feeling balanced doesn’t come from cramming more tasks into your day – it comes from identifying what matters and focusing on those tasks.
If you’re paying off a mortgage it might not be wise to spend $1,000 on a shopping spree. And if you’ve got an urgent project due at work it might not be wise to take the week off. When you assess your priorities you’ll be able to focus on the tasks that matter. And when you complete the tasks that matter you’ll feel satisfied, happy and balanced.
#11 – Be kind to yourself
You’re doing the best you can, and that’s worth celebrating.
Don’t worry what someone else’s life looks like on Facebook or what other people are doing with their time. When you take the pressure off yourself you’ll be able to see all the goals you have achieved, instead of focusing on the goals you haven’t.
At the end of the day you’re in control of your thoughts and your actions. If you’re doing the best you can, then you’ll feel happy knowing how much effort you’ve put in.
#12 – Plan ahead
If your to-do list can’t be changed, focus on managing it instead.
Planning ahead helps create a routine so you know what to expect and when to expect it. You can use a planning app on your smartphone, or go old school and use a pen and paper to map out your day/week/month.
Putting your plans on paper will also help you keep track of what you’ve achieved, so when you feel overrun and busy you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished already. And that’s going to feel great.
#13 – Go offline
It’s tough to get away from technology. Whether you’ve been working from home and your emails have been creeping into ‘family time’ or you’re a stay-at-home parent with your phone on your hip, it helps to pop the phone away and just sit with your feelings.
Even leaving your phone alone for the first and last 10 minutes of the day can help you reset, unwind and feel balanced.
#14 – Make time for yourself
When you’re busy it won’t always be possible to take a full day off, especially if you’re a busy parent or working towards a deadline at work. But you can (and should) carve out moments in the day when YOU are the focus.
These could include:
- 5 minutes of breathing exercises in the morning
- Hot bath without your phone, laptop or emails
- A walk around the block listening to your favourite songs
- Enjoying lunch outside (and not at your desk)
Small moments of relaxation help your mind reset and find balance when things feel overwhelming.
#15 – Say “no”
Being busy can become chronic unless you learn to say “no”.
That doesn’t mean you should turn down every request for your help or time, but weigh up whether the task in front of you is beneficial to you or detrimental to your mental health.
Do you really need to take the overtime shift? Do you really need to volunteer for the canteen at the sports carnival? Do you really need to go to that social event across town?
Saying no won’t upset people, but saying yes and delivering a subpar performance or result can hurt you more in the long run. There’s no need to come up with a creative excuse either, a simple “I’m not able to handle this task at the moment” helps set boundaries that restore balance and happiness.
Looking for a little help to find your joy again?
Life is full of challenges and unexpected obstacles.
If you’re struggling to find your spark it can help to speak to someone about the problems you’re facing, and the possible solutions available to you.
At Lifeskills Australia we offer a range of services designed to help you find your happiness and balance. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a FIFO worker, a working professional or in need of a little one-on-one counselling, we’re here to help.
If you’d like to discover how to find your happiness and balance again, call LifeSkills Australia on 1800 870 080. Or, fill out our simple contact form to request an appointment.