“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” - Brene Brown
We live in a culture where going all in, working yourself to the bone, and having no personal time is seen as honorable and important. We are taught to work late, keep our phones on at all times so we’re always available, and on top of that, figure out how to juggle our relationships with household responsibilities and personal time. At some time in our life, we all think we’re invincible; able to manage work, exercise, parenting, chores, and relationships.
But in reality, trying to do all of this is impossible — although that didn’t stop me from giving it a shot. About 4 years ago, I was in a disaster state. I was putting so much time and effort into my work that I neglected all of my other responsibilities. I was beyond stressed and beginning to burnout. I became extremely skinny, because I wasn’t eating properly or making time for my health. I was completely overwhelmed and defeated, and I reached a point where I just knew I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Most of us reach a point in our life where we experience something similar.
Getting too submerged in work or another activity, so that all other areas of our life begin to shift out of our focus. But, the trick is to try and figure out how to manage things realistically so your life is more stable and controlled.
Life’s great balancing act is all about trying to figure out what is worth spending time on. When I reached my breaking point, I took inventory of my life and realized I needed to make some changes. I couldn’t continue my job and where I was at, so I quit. Being a slave to your job isn’t the secret to a fulfilled life, but will instead bring anxiety, stress, and tension that is hard to reverse. However, the good news is that it’s never too late to make those changes, and if you are feeling where I was 4 years ago, know from me that it’s not only okay but necessary to put you and your happiness first.
Here are the 4 ways I gave my life an overhaul, and how I learned that going “all in” wasn’t the secret to success.
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important aspects of learning to live a balanced lifestyle. Over the past 15 or so years, our society has become extremely sleep-deprived, instead relying on coffee and other caffeinated drinks to fuel our days. But on top of just being important to help you recharge, sleep is vital for improving concentration and productivity and lowering levels of anxiety and depression.
Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to your health, one study even showing that short sleeps sometimes negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a degree similar to alcohol intoxication. The bottom line is that we all need sleep to survive, and more importantly thrive, especially in today’s fast-paced environment. Exhaustion is not honorable, but knowing when to shut the lights and get a good night’s rest is stuff worth bragging about.
Put your Phone Away
One thing that has changed my life was leaning when to put my phone down. Coinciding with getting enough sleep, it’s important to put your phone down at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from your phone triggers “awake” signals to your brain, preventing you from getting ready to catch those zzz’s. But besides just before bed, there are many other instances where you don’t need to be scrolling instagram or checking your email.
I always try to put my phone down when I’m with my husband, my kid, or with friends. By doing that, you are showing them that they are important and that you value their time. While our smartphones are amazing in letting us do so many things (such as run a business), there are times where it’s important to put the phone down and just be in the present moment.
Eat Good Food
By "eat good food" I don’t mean pizza and ice cream. I mean that you should spend time putting foods in your body that help improve your focus, memory, and overall health. There are thousands of studies that show a direct link between what you put in your body and how well you perform at work. Eating lots of carbs, cheese, or foods high in refined sugar can cause you to feel groggy and tired. On the contrary, fuelling your body with lean proteins, leafy vegetables, and whole grains sets yourself up for a productive and fulfilling work day. If you work in an office, try to pack a lunch every day to avoid feeling starving and then just grabbing the closest, easiest meal (which also is often the most unhealthy). Know the times of day where you usually feel peckish and slow, and learn to pack healthy snacks such as veggies and hummus.
For me, a balanced lifestyle is one where I stay hydrated. We shower our bodies with water on the outside to keep clean, so we have to do the same on our insides. Our bodies need to be cleansed, and water helps to flush toxins and keep your brain razor sharp.
Learn to Say No
This one is hard, especially for all of the perfectionists and people pleasers out there. But learning how to say no is essential in living a balanced lifestyle. We all get in the habit of saying yes because it’s easier and we don’t want people to think badly of us.
This was me 4 years ago — I was saying “yes” to everything, and trying to juggle it all. But by doing that, I was actually putting everything else before my own health and happiness. Saying no is not selfish. Remember that you don’t have to add one more thing to your to-do list if you just don’t want to, and you don’t have to meet your friend for coffee if you just don’t have the time in your life right now.
Build a clear vision for what you want your life to look like and say no to everything that doesn’t support those goals.