Did you know humans are the only species who project into the future? Worrying about what might happen or planning for what is next without being present in the now. Did you know that focusing on the future breeds anxiety? All other species, plants and animals collectively focus on the present, they go with the flow of the life cycle and truly thrive in the moment.
Striving for a perfect work-life balance can cause us to feel anxious and overwhelmed and it will set us up for failure. Sometimes we are focused on one or two areas in our lives, whether that's for a day, a few months, even a year. But things change and our priorities and focus in life changes over time.
Balance creates less anxiety and is far more sustainable when it isn't portrayed as a conflict of interest but as conscious choices based on our priorities at this particular time. It is more realistic to introduce the concept of integration or harmony; a healthy ebb and flow of daily hours devoted to work or what you might refer to as play.There are two strategies that I use in my Coaching practice that help to address this problem; one is breathwork, and the other is the construct of the 'Life Wheel'.
One can feel anxious knowing there is an imbalance and not knowing what to do. This can lead to burnout, not feeling energetic, experiencing ill-health or a partner/family member is complaining or feeling resentful. Having a visual of the situation on paper gets it out of your head and begins the process of awareness and contemplative change.
Decide what is most important to you in your life. We make decisions based on our core values and beliefs. Beliefs can be changed; however, values are set early on in life. To clarify, ask yourself a resourceful question such as "what is most important in my life?" What are the values that you base most of your life decisions on? Why is it important to have a healthy integration of work/life? When you ask a resourceful question, your brain usually responds with a resourceful answer.
Identifying the areas that need more attention, such as self-care, will promote greater health and well-being, giving you the energy and clarity to make incremental lifestyle changes. Some people can't wait to take a vacation so they can feel relaxed, happy, and playful with no stress. What if you could have a life of meaning and thrive instead of surviving day to day. You could live a life you don't need a vacation from!
Integrating all parts of your life requires an awareness of the imbalances that exist. The life wheel is useful in addressing the shifts that need to take place and where attention and focus must be placed. When one achieves a calmer state from the breathwork, clarity and focus help to determine how one wants to feel instead. Remember you are not your thoughts; a topic to unravel in a future article.