It’s often hard to learn ways to live a more balanced life when stress enters into our lives, either through busy schedules, last minute crisis situations, school schedules, work responsibilities, or just learning to grow up. We usually tend to start out on the right foot but somehow, sometimes things just start to spin out of control and we find ourselves in a ball of stress before we really know what’s happening. If that’s your situation, or it sounds very familiar, then try some ways to live a more balanced life that I’ve learned over the years. I have found that while it is hard to avoid stress during life, it’s not always that hard to find ways to balance it out.
1. Make Lists
I know you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to have time to make lists in your busy schedules, but doing so is one of the best ways to live a more balanced life of all. Lists can help us sort through ideas, thoughts, and make us feel more in control, just by making them. They also help to organize not only our lives, but also our thoughts. We often get new ideas, or remember something we would have automatically forgotten otherwise, when we make lists. Make a to-do list every morning, perhaps right after your coffee, or when you first get to to work. Or, even make one on the treadmill or elliptical on your mobile phone while you work out for a few minutes. Anytime you get a free chance on the weekends, make lists for your bills, budget, meal ideas, grocery shopping, or just anything else you want to accomplish. Lists may seem small in the big scheme of things, but they make a huge difference in your day to day sense of well being.
2. Let Some Things Go
If you’re trying to be Superwoman and do it all, then I’ve got news for you- you’re not going to succeed at this for long without losing your sanity. You’re going to have to let some things go and probably have to make some hard choices in the meantime. This might mean letting some things go off your schedule, telling someone no, getting rid of obligations that aren’t enhancing your life any further, or projects and hobbies you no longer care about but feel indebted to. Just learning to let go will help you balance out your life and you’ll be so much happier for it in the long run.
3. Get Your Budget under Control
I know better than anyone that you can’t be balanced if you don’t have a budget. And don’t just have a budget, but stick to it! Budgets are no fun, are one of my least favorite things in the world to do, but I’ll be honest with you- without them, I’m a mess. Budgets not only help you organize your money, but also your thoughts on money. Believe it or not, making a budget and sticking to it can help you be more disciplined and balanced in other areas of your life too. No matter how small, start making a budget either daily, weekly, or monthly, and be sure to set aside at least a teeny bit for savings, if not more. Do the best you can with what you have, and life will automatically balance itself out.
4. Cut Your Critics
Believe it or not, people in your life can also make you feel imbalanced, and may be contributing to your stress more than you realize. The critical friend, the demeaning mother in law, the cute but rude boyfriend, and even a co-worker you admire. Anyone who constantly criticizes you and creates more stress in your life needs to be reconsidered as someone you spend your time around. Surround yourself with people that better you, lift you up, and inspire you, not drain you and depress you.
5. Make a Career Choice
Another tip for balancing out your life is to be sure you make the right career choice for you. If you’re not doing something you’re passionate about that nurtures you and t inspires you to grow as a person and employee, cut the ties and find something else. That can seem scary, but you’ll be a much happier person if your life includes a career you care about. Getting up each day and going to work somewhere that drains you will never allow you to have a balanced life, no matter what else you do.
6. Let Go of Perfection
Can I be honest with you? I’m terrible about trying to be perfect, keep the perfect house, do the perfect job, have the perfect workout, pretty much do everything perfectly. What I’ve realized is my life will never ever be balanced if I continue to live this way. I’ve had to let go of a few things around my house, had to be sure to not lose my mind if I can’t work out some days as long as others, and give myself a break when I personally need a break from a few things. It’s okay not to be perfect all the time, and trying to do so is exhausting. Living balanced is about letting go. In the grand scheme of things, most of the things we worry about don’t matter anyway
7. Work It out
Another tip I have for everyone is one you’ve heard a million times, but it’s true. Work out each day, even if it’s something small. Something to get your mind out of your daily life and get you going, relieve stress, and take out some of your emotions through an active lifestyle. Working out is good for many things, but especially for feeling more balanced. The best way to do it is to get up and work out when you first wake up. I know this is so hard, but you’ll handle stress better all day, and then you won’t have to think about working out the rest of the day! Plus, working out also balances you out physically, which can even make you feel more balance mentally.
8. Get Organized
Even if it's just your hall closet, simply organizing messy spaces can help you breathe and creates time for the fun things. By organizing your home and office, you won't spend so much time hunting for the things you want or need and will have more hours to clock on the things that truly make life worth living. Start small and work your way to the bigger projects and soon you're life will be as balanced as your home looks.
9. Make a Schedule
Nope, it isn't the most fun way to spend your time, but taking a few minutes to create a schedule for the day, week or month can really free up some stress and time in your life. Grab your calendar and write down the things you have to do, then add in the things you want to do. Seeing it there in writing is a great motivator for actually doing something you've been wanting to do. Plus seeing your schedule in black and white is a simple way to see where you need to create more balance.
10. Get a Hobby
Maybe you wonder where in the world you'll find time to have a hobby, but you'd be surprised that you don't have to set aside hours every day to foster a skill you love or want to develop. Spend 30 minutes adding a page to your vacation scrapbook, reading a novel or writing poetry and you'll notice a wonderful sense of calm and well-being. Fit in your hobby in short spurts whenever you have time and you'll feel the balance in your life begin to level out.
Exercise is great for weight control, but it can also boost your mood and create a sense of balance when combined with the rest of your crazy busy life. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes each day and you'll feel your happiness go up. That's because a workout causes a surge in feel-good hormones, which can drag you out of the dumps pretty quickly. Choose something you enjoy so you don't abandon it right away. Biking, swimming, jogging and dancing are good choices.
12. Eat Right
A stressful and busy life often means poor eating habits. Take out and fast food seem to rule when time is tight and a healthy home cooked meal often takes the back burner to powering through the to-do list. That's a bad idea if you want more balance in your life. Choose nutritious foods, even if you must eat out, and you'll feel healthier, look better and have the motivation to keep everything on an even keel. Plus, eating healthy tastes so good!
It might sound simple, but a good chuckle several times per day can lower stress and give you a sunnier outlook on life. See the latest comedy or watch a couple reruns of your favorite funny sitcom. Read jokes on the computer or check out the latest cat antics on YouTube. Whatever you pick, make sure you crack up and you'll instantly feel a balanced feeling.
The word balance can seem like a joke when you’re stressed, but hopefully these ways to live a more balanced life can at least get you started on the right track. Do you have any tips for how you balance out your life?
This article written in collaboration with editor, Eliza Martinez