I recently shared that I have accepted another part-time job in addition to my private practice. Additionally, I am continuing to plan to teach a class in the fall along with providing supervision. I will be honest that as excited I am for opportunities, I am also anxious in regards to all of the things that will require pieces of my time. I’m aware that the balance in my life can easily be
tipped toppled. Finding balance and keeping it are significant self care tasks that we each need to continuously do on a regular basis.
My thoughts recently have included: How will I do all of this? Can I do all of this? Should I let something go?
I am well aware of how quickly work life can bleed into my personal life. In the past, my work life has been a reason I have neglected my physical health, lost touch with friends and basically ignored activities in life which nourished me. I’ve told myself I didn’t have time for a run or an exercise class and when it became too difficult to schedule with friends, I simply stopped reaching out to them.
Our lives can quickly become overwhelmed with the wrong priorities. We neglect ourselves, neglect our friends, neglect our spirit and the next thing we know everything is out of balance.
As a transition counselor, I will not pretend that maintaining balance is easier for me or that I have suddenly mastered a secret trick to keep balance.This is a task that I am continuously aware of. I have learned from past experiences that if I do not keep my work/life balance in check I will quickly begin to make decisions that are unhealthy.
How balanced do you feel your life is? Do you feel that something is off but aren’t sure what it is?
The Balance Wheel activity is an exercise that I give many of my clients. If we consider our lives as being balanced like a wheel then the different areas of our lives are evenly balanced and receiving equal attention. When our focus falls more into one area then our lives quickly become unbalanced and we find ourselves struggling often resorting to unhealthy behaviors such as limited sleep, poor eating habits and isolation.
You will find a variety of Balance Wheels and each provides different sections of your life where you are encouraged to consider how complete you feel your life is in that area. If you view the wheel above, you will see areas focusing upon everything from physical health, hobbies, professional/career, and spirituality. Each section is ranked 0 (being empty) to 10 (complete and full). You fill in each section and are then able to see how balanced your life currently is.
I share the story with my clients that years ago I had folded a new balance wheel into my personal journal but was not completing it. I even found myself writing about how I WAS NOT DOING the exercise. I wasn’t doing it because I knew that my life was out of balance. Putting it on paper was going to make it real and force me to face that I needed to make changes.
I was eventually able to complete that balance wheel and slowly made changes in my life. It took time to make those changes and was not easy.
Some may find that completing this exercise isn’t easy or fun. Others may be surprised at how content they feel with certain areas of their lives. This exercise may also help some to acknowledge they feel complete with an area of their life but not in the traditional sense. An example may be that one is spiritual but they do not feel they need to actively attend church.
After completing the wheel, it isn’t possible to change everything at once. I encourage looking at one or two areas to start. If health is a concern then it may mean beginning to walk a few times a week or changing a diet. If one is unhappy with their job it will involve beginning to look at if there are other jobs in the field or if a complete change needs to be made. I often find that many feel they have let friendships and relationships fall because of other priorities. This may involve calling someone and actually scheduling a time to meet rather than saying “Let’s get together.”
It is true that there are times when we can not control the imbalance in our lives. You or a loved one becomes ill. A crisis happens at work. Life is constantly changing and forcing us to adjust. However, it is our responsibility to remember the areas of our life that are important to us.
As I embark on new career changes and goals, only I can make the decision of where my time and energy goes. I must maintain the areas that I need to keep my life in balance. Forgetting this will move me to a place of struggle.
I encourage you to spend some time completing your own balance wheel. (Warning, it may take some time to make yourself sit down with it – especially if you feel your life is out of balance.)
As you complete your balance wheel Ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I happy with how my life looks?
- Why are certain areas receiving more of you than others?
- Why are areas lacking?
- What do I need to do to make changes?
If you find yourself unhappy with the imbalance in your life, know that you have the power to make changes. It takes courage to begin making changes but you can do it!
Finding balance will bring peace to your life.
Will you take time to begin finding balance in your life?
Self Care Saturday is a weekly series offering tips and suggestions for a healthy, happy life.