How to make balance work for you: A step-by-step guide
How do you balance your life? The strict definition of balance goes a little something like this, "a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions." Simple, yes. Easy? Not always. It feels like the million dollar question! With stress levels at an all time high today, seeking out balance is just as important. But how exactly? I wish I had a magic formula. What I do have is a step-by-step guide that I use with clients and journal students. This guide has helped others redefine balance for them so they could bring it back into their life. Although I don't have a magic formula I do know this - balance is different for everyone.
The best way to make balance work for you is to stop looking to others for how they define it. You know what your life needs more of and less of. You know what works best for you when you're overwhelmed or stressed out. Use the steps below to outline your own personal guide to relieving stress by bringing some balance back to your life.
Step 1: Define what it means for you
You get to define balance for yourself! I know for me balance is making space in my life for things like cooking, exercise, friends, books, my journal, date nights, and solid hours for blogging. Life is going to happen. Life brings things like laundry, cleaning, money management, supporting friends, work, family, and more with it. I don't do everything that makes me feel balanced everyday because that would just add to much to my plate. I like to spread these things out during the week.
It doesn't always happen but my intention is there because I've made myself aware of what is important to me. Your turn - what things just feel great and restore some balance and energy to your life? How often do you need them? Where can you make space for them?
Step 2: Clear out the mental clutter
It's easy to feel like your plate is super full when you think about it as one big pile of stuff. So break it down and pull it apart. I like to use the Life Balance Inventory to help me see things more clearly. For example, your life is made up of your home, work, family, finances, hobbies, spirituality, friends, and your relationship. It's easy to get lost in it all when you pile everything on top of one another. When you look at the inventory sheet you might find that it's your finances that are really stressing you out but that stress is effecting your family time. Once you can pinpoint it you can create a plan for it. Your turn - take the inventory and select a couple areas of your life to take new action on.
Step 3: Create a few goals
Once you have your inventory broken down and you know what needs some more energy right now, create a few goals. Sometimes writing a small to-do list is all I need. Sometimes I need to carve out a day for cleaning things out or organizing. But that sense of control is where balance lives. Knowing you have a plan feels great.
You may also find that you're spending a lot of energy on work but not on your hobbies. This is why Step 1 is super important. It's amazing how a short walk or 10-minutes with my journal can counter the effects of a stressful work day. Your turn - create a few goals to bring the different parts of your life back into balance.
Step 4: Find support
Chances are the people closest to you know when you're stressed out. And I promise that they want to help! I am so grateful for my partner because she can easily see when I need some me-time or need to have coffee with a friend and she holds me to it. Let me be blunt - no, you can't do it all by yourself so please stop trying. Ask for help! Whether it's someone to check in with you or someone who lends a hand, it's a good thing to ask for support. Your turn - who in your life is ready to help you be more balanced?
Step 5: Make it happen
These steps won't do you much good unless you implement them. But the last thing I want is for them to add more stress when they're supposed to take it away! Begin with Step 1 and if that's all you get to you at least started somewhere. Your turn - go back to Step 1 and make a list of the things that make you feel great.
There you have my step-by-step for how to make balance work for you. Balance is possible when it starts with you! -Andrea