Nowadays with busy work schedules, overtime work, deadlines, further/extra studies, kids, rising petrol prices, inflation, social obligations, house chores, mortgage repayments, etc, it is getting harder and harder for many people to stay healthy, stress-free and happy. Many of us end up disregarding our physical, mental and emotional well being just to ensure we stay on top of things (or so we think) and that the bills are paid for, our project deadlines are met, our kids go to private schools, etc.
What many people fail to consider is: What is the point of doing all of this if you’re not going to enjoy and live a happy life?
Living a balanced lifestyle is the key to ensuring that you can have time for yourself, your work, your friends, your family and time to enjoy life and the people and things around you. Admittedly, achieving one is easier said than to be done. But if you are discipline and really try to challenge yourself, you will get there and you would never want to look back.
To help you along your journey, I have listed out some simple tips and ways to go about balancing your life, work and commitments.
1. Indulge in yourself
By indulging and taking care of yourself, this can significantly reduce your stress levels and clear your mind so that you’re in a better frame of mind to tackle any issues, problems and unexpected challenges that pop up along the way. Reduction of stress is important as high levels of stress have been shown to significantly impact negatively on one’s mental and emotional health. Hence, as part of a balanced lifestyle, activities that are stress-reducing are important and I have listed out a few ideas to get you started.
- If you have the money and time, go for a massage or spa to pamper yourself. There is nothing better than having a professional masseuse nut out all the knots on your back and shoulders. You will feel energized and rejuvenated after an hour’s long indulgence.
- Get up slightly earlier in the morning and take your time to use the bathroom, brush your hair, stretch and apply your make up (if you use make up) before everyone else wakes up. The few extra minutes of quietness in the morning can be extremely therapeutic and relaxing before the day really begins.
- Savor your breakfast and cup of coffee/tea. If you don’t normally have breakfast, this should be the very first thing you change. Eating breakfast is extremely important as it has health and energy benefits and can help increase concentration and assist in weight loss. So in the morning when you’re eating your food, chew slowly on it, sip your coffee and really appreciate the taste and aroma. Sometimes, it is the simple pleasures in life that can really make the long day ahead seem much more manageable.
- If you’re time-constrained and your hobbies include things like running, playing angry birds on your iPhone, going for a walk, reading a good book, listening to music, knitting, making craft, etc. Do this during your lunch break. If you have something due soon but you feel your brain is fried, take that break (even if it is just for half and hour) and engage in an activity you love. It will give your brain a chance to relax and re-energise so that by the time you hit your work desk again, you would be in a more optimum and efficient mindset to tackle your work.
- If you absolutely cannot afford to take a 30 min break, lean back on your chair, close your eyes and zone out for 5 – 10 mins. Daydream about positive things such as the amazing dinner you’re going to be having tonight, the dinner you have scheduled to see your best friend or the weekend coming up. Think happy thoughts and when you open your eyes, straighten your posture, smile and get back to work. You will be surprise at how simple things can really boost your energy, approach and motivation.
2. Take care of your body
Since we take time to indulge in ourselves, as part of a balanced lifestyle, we must also take time to care for ourselves. Caring for ourselves and our body involves eating a balanced diet and being active (ie. exercise). Approaching this with a positive can-do attitude will also make things a lot easier, and in combination with these ideas, you will be on your way to achieving a balanced lifestyle in no time.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Remember this phase: “Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness” (Edward Stanley). The reason why eating well is so essential for a balanced lifestyle is because having a balanced diet will ensure that your body is functioning well, you have more energy for your day and you will have a lower chance of falling sick or developing any illnesses/diseases. There are a million and one things that could go wrong if you continuously indulge in an unhealthy diet but it is outside the scope of this article. If you’re interested and would like to read up more on it, I would recommend you to read up on how to achieve a balanced diet
- Ensure that your home is always stocked with ready to eat fruits and vegetables so you can quickly grab them as you head out of your house to begin your day
- Plan ahead so you always know roughly what you’re going to be eating for your meals. This reduces the chance of you wanting to have take-away food and unhealthy home deliveries.
- During your afternoon tea break/5 min break from your work, Google some healthy, easy to make recipes. There are a million of recipes out there and looking and the pictures will guarantee not only to relax you, but to also get you pumped and excited to try out your new dish at dinner tonight.
- 3 meals a day. Especially breakfast. Enough said.
- Eat in moderation. And this does mean enjoying the occasional cake, KFC meal, Big Mac or pizza delivery when you feel that you have been treating your body right for the majority of the time! Remember, we are not going on a diet; we are aiming to have a lifestyle change which means no strict diets or regime. Just honest good ways to live a little healthier and enjoy a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
- Don’t follow the crowd: If your workmates or friends around you love to eat fried foods, take-away and unhealthy meals, you don’t have to follow them! Recognise that you can be healthier than the people around you and enjoy looking after yourself.
Exercise is not only a fantastic way to reduce stress, it is great for the waist line, your skin, mental health and ensuring that your bodily functions are at their optimum. If you’re “too busy” for exercise, schedule it like how you will schedule your other work appointments and social events. By committing it down on your calendar, you are more likely to stick with it and be motivated to do it. Make sure that the exercise is something you love to do. So for example, if you don’t like running or hitting the gym, go for a bike ride instead. Or try something new like dancing, zumba, rock climbing, etc. Be creative! There are so many other options out there besides hitting the gym.
3. Prioritise your life
To enjoy a balanced lifestyle, you need to manage all aspects of your life: Work, health, fitness, relationships, family and mental well-being. However, realistically, it can get unbelievably hard to manage all aspects of this and become bogged down with one aspect (ie. work) and ignore the rest (ie. your diet or time spent with your loved ones). Therefore, it is vital that you take some steps and tips to ensure you maintain on top of things so that you can enjoy all areas of your life.
- Be forward thinking and organized – Plan and think ahead at the start of each week to assess what events are coming up. Make sure you dedicate adequate time to finishing up your work and assign quality time for yourself; this includes scheduling time for exercise, social events and “Me-time”. A good trick to do is to overestimate the amount of time you need to complete a task (ie. if you realistically think it will take 3 hours to finish a report, estimate that it will take 4 hours instead), this will ensure you have more than enough time to deliver high quality work, spend high quality time with your friends and yourself. If the task/event took lesser time than budgeted, you now have some extra spare time that you can use to either start on the next task, have a break, or catch up with your friends!
- Expect the unexpected and the worst case scenario – Things unfortunately do not always go according to plan, and when this happens, many of us end up stressing over it and start doing things that may not be healthy to your body and mental well-being. By expecting the worst case scenario, you can actively take steps to ensure that that scenario doesn’t take place or that you have a Plan B ready should anything go wrong. This is also another reason why overestimating the amount of time you need to complete a task is very useful as it provides you with a time buffer to fix anything should things not work out the way you planned.
4. Be contented and disciplined
When you’re contented, you can actually properly enjoy every moment of your life and savor the things that are important to you. Many people get caught up in the whole materialistic world which can drive them to work more and more hours which consequently impacts negatively on their health, emotional wellbeing, and relationships with their love ones. It is important to distinguish between a want and a need because lets face it, most of the time, we do not really NEED that new BMW car, we just want it for superficial reasons. Again prioritising what is important to you (because everyone is different) is important as you will be able to have a holistic view on what is important and what you need to work and aim for.
As with everything (especially at the start), living a balanced lifestyle can be challenging to achieve as it requires you to change your current lifestyle. Being disciplined and committed is so important in ensuring that you permanently and sustainably having a healthy diet, an exercise routine and enough time for your work, your love ones and yourself. Start off with planning your calendar and diary and make sure you look at it everyday and stick with it. Doing it with a friend that is equally or more motivated is also a great idea as you can both motivate each other and start doing things together (ie. healthy cooking or exercise activities).
5. Do something you find meaningful in your spare time
Happiness comes from achieving a positive sense of well being and achievement, and this can occur from developing relationships with people. When we believe that we have helped another person in a certain way, chemicals in our brain actually react and make us feel good about ourselves in a selfless kind of way. Meaningful ways to spend your time include volunteering at the local dogs shelter or elderly homes, or visiting a friend in hospital, or going to see your grandparents/parents that you haven’t seen for a while, or catching up with a friend that you know is going through a hard time, or assisting the new colleague of yours in finishing up his project. There are countless of meaningful activities that you could be doing and enjoying in your spare time. Remember, the meaning of life is to live a life of purpose and you can only get the most out of your life if you can manage all aspects of your life that are important to you.
I hope this article has been useful to you and all the best!
Regina Cheah is a full time professional banker in Melbourne Australia who strongly believes in the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and helping people to achieve one. Even with a busy hectic schedule, she ensures that she lives and breathes healthy eating and active living by following some simple steps and ideas.