Having been out of school for a little over a year now and working full-time, I have to say, one of the most difficult things for me has been finding balance in my life. Balance was something I had never thought about before this year. In school, I found it fairly easy (except for exam time) to keep on top of my grades, have a great social life, and participate in extracurricular activities. When you are new to the workforce most times you can’t really demand work life balance from your potential employer. It’s not something I even thought about, rather I was just happy graduating with a great job lined up.
I started working full-time, spent 2 hours commuting to and from work, and by the time I got home I would be running out the door again to one of my multiple extracurricular activities such as going to meet a friend, or to do a personal errand that I couldn't get done during the day. I began to feel like I was constantly on the go, and my weekends would be jam packed as well. I was trying to do it all - be a superstar at work, be social, and exercise regularly by signing up for different activities. In a couple of months, all I found myself to be was burnt out. I took on far too much and it back-lashed on both my mental and physical health. I was no longer present in the moment and enjoying life because I was constantly thinking about how busy the rest of the day/week/month looked. I was always sick with a cold or some sort of bug because I was worn out. I knew something had to change, and I realized that sometimes in life you can’t have the perfect balance, but striving to have some degree of balance is important. I can’t say I have found the answer to the perfect balance, however, it is a work in progress. Here are some things I do now to ensure that I am able to feel internally fulfilled and well-rounded in my life, but not feel worn out from trying to do it all:
1. Eat Right and On Time: Make sure you are getting all the proper nutrients in your diet in order to sustain a busy lifestyle. Eating healthy is key, so if you are lacking in any vitamins or don’t have a good diet, it can cause you to feel tired. It is also important to ensure that you follow your regular eating schedule, meaning not planning activities around meal times, and not skipping or delaying meals regardless of how busy you are.
2. Time Alone: I have two nights a week where I don’t plan anything (it can be two different nights and not always the same every week depending on what’s going on). This allows me to relax, re-energize, and focus on myself.
3. Prioritize: Sometimes certain things in your life are more demanding. For example, if you know it’s going to be a very busy week at work or school, don’t try and plan anything for afterwards. Even if you feel like you may be letting someone down, you are only creating extra stress for yourself if you have a lot to do but you also have obligations in other places. I know I personally struggle with saying no to friends or activities, but sometimes it is okay to be selfish; know what you have to focus on at that particular point in time and do it. Prioritizing also means getting rid of things or people that don’t provide you with value. Analyze your relationships and activities, and focus on the things you actually love to do with the people who are positive influences in your life.
4. Be Conscious About It: Be conscious about what you need to do in your life to be happy, and take some time and think about it every couple of weeks. Think about how you are feeling. If you have had time to do things that you love, and to see the people you love, you will generally be satisfied. Balance is different for everyone. You may find your job or what you are studying truly fulfilling, and maybe you don’t mind spending 80 hours a week at it and doing nothing else. If you find yourself unhappy with how things are going you may want to reanalyze your career, relationships, or activities.
Just putting these few simple things into practice has already helped me to feel so much better, and I am finding myself getting back to the point of not feeling so frantic and stressed out all the time from having too much going on. I would love to hear about how you maintain balance in your life. Comment below!