THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – September is here and life has ramped up. The calendar is full of meetings, the kids are back in school and a zillion activities, and we’re all scurrying to batten things down before old man winter blows into town.
It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we need a little coaching, a little help, a little plan, to find the right mix of things we have to do and things we want to do, of things that drain us and things that feed us. We also need to carve out enough time for sleep, relationships that sustain us, exercise, healthy meals, and other life-affirming activities so we don’t drown in work and chores.
Finding and maintaining balance – a consistent, healthy lifestyle that nourishes our mind, body and spirit, regardless of circumstances and situations – can be difficult. There are always going to be times when we feel overloaded but know that it’s just not possible to pare down. But we can plan to make changes in the future. Maintaining balance isn’t about staying still; it’s about recognizing when you’re getting out of balance, and righting yourself. Constantly.
The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that 58% of Canadians feel overloaded because of the pressures they experience at work and at home. Next time you’re feeling off-kilter, see if one of these strategies will help you right yourself and find your centre of balance.
Get Enough Sleep, Eat Well + Exercise Regularly
These three lifestyle choices create the solid tripod you need for a balanced life.
Sleep improves our body’s ability to handle stress, be productive, and function properly. If you really can’t get enough sleep at night, think about a power nap.
Take time to eat well. Make sure you have breakfast, carry a snack, reduce caffeine, and prepare healthy food at home to avoid fast food with its large portions and huge helpings of sodium and fat. You’ll stave off extra pounds and save money too, which will improve your financial picture and decrease stress on your wallet.
Regular exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol and increases endorphins, your body’s feel-good chemicals. If you exercise with a buddy or team, you’ll get built-in social time too.
Take a Mental Health Day
Do you have enough fun? Take just one day off from the pressure or monotony of life, and do whatever it takes to feel rested or fulfilled. Use your imagination!
Make Every Moment Count
Which things do you want to do, and which ones do you have to do? Cross unnecessary ‘have to’ items off your list even if it means saying no (think of your life balance, and try to make the right choice). Now, make sure your ‘want to’ items really bring you joy and feed you emotionally. If you’re not sure, cross them off too and do something that’s really worth your time.
Social support can keep you healthier and happier, creating a buffer against stress. Friends can pick you up when you’re sad, provide insights when you’re confused, and help you have fun when you need to blow off steam.
Learn to Delegate
Good managers delegate responsibility, add some encouragement, and let go. You can too: enlist your children, your partner, or hire help – a housekeeper, gardener, handyman, or shopper.
Do a Good Enough Job
Going the extra mile all the time leads to perfectionism and burn out. Take shortcuts if the end result is still adequate – buy a birthday cake, run the Swiffer around – and live by the 80-20 rule. Identify the 20% of work that yields 80% of the results, and focus on what’s important.
Set Goals for the Future
Create a personal life plan with long-term goals that help guide everyday decisions. For example, should you exercise or watch a mediocre TV show? The long-term benefits of getting moving help an overall plan for better health, but TV watching doesn’t.
Household and time management are vital to finding balance in life. Schedule your day and don’t overlook the power of clean laundry, a packed lunch, and your car keys to improve your day. Use whatever tools work for you – a smartphone, a tablet, or a simple paper calendar.
Ask For Help
Everything in your busy schedule may seem vital but it’s often a good friend, close relative, or spouse who can help you see that there’s something you can let go. If you don’t have that kind of person in your life, consider help from a professional life coach or, in more serious situations, a therapist.
To learn some great tips and techniques for balanced living, come out for a free Northern Cancer Question and Answer session, Living Well in Hectic Times. In this interactive session, Angie Gollat, Personal and Organizational Wellness Coach, and Paul Hemsworth, Exercise Physiologist and Strength and Conditioning Specialist, will share their strategies for finding and maintaining balance. Everyone is welcome.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Time: 7 pm
Location: Creative Commons, 116 South Syndicate – 2nd Floor (above the Good News Cafe)
Space is limited for this unique session. Please call to reserve your place: 684-7237