It can be a juggling act to strike a healthy life balance at the best of times, but with so many rapid and unexpected changes over the last few years, it has become easy to neglect one or more of the areas that constitute a well-rounded existence. If you’re looking to get things back on track, read on as we identify the four elements of a balanced life, why they’re important, and how to maintain them.
What exactly is a balanced life?
Our lives are made up of many parts, including relationships, health (both physical and mental), emotional well-being, and of course, work. A balanced life would be one where none of these elements are pulling you too hard in one direction, away from the others.
Achieving some sort of balance is at the core of human well-being, allowing us to use our body and mind, find fulfilment in the company of others, give ourselves space to relax, and to stay motivated to achieve new things. Through it all, balance helps us to be more grounded, manage stress, and cope with life’s ups and downs effectively. To sum up: it’s important.
The four main elements of a balanced life
The key elements of life are all intertwined. When one is neglected, flow-on effects to the other areas can occur. Conversely, when an improvement is made to one, all areas benefit! Let’s take a closer look:
In short, work is what gives us purpose. Having finances to survive and thrive are one thing, but work also allows us to use our talents, explore new areas of learning, and form relationships with like-minded people. Despite playing a starring role in the balanced life, the issue of work life balance has become more prominent recently with the rise of remote work, where devices have made it hard to delineate between office responsibilities and downtime.
Engagement in positive and supportive social interactions and activities is not only fun, it is beneficial to our overall health and well-being. Time and time again studies have found that loneliness is a big risk factor in early death, with the lesson that you shouldn’t neglect important relationships, whether they be with friends, family, or romantic partners.
Activity and fitness, sleep, nutrition, and engaging in healthy habits all play a crucial role in your overall feeling of balance and wellness, as well as your health and longevity.
Our mental state can have a profound effect on our overall health and immune system. If our mental state suffers it can bring down all other areas of our life balance. Stress can play havoc with our bodily functions and can lead to a whole range of illnesses, while negative emotions can lead us to take up unhealthy habits to cope. Smoking, drinking, poor nutrition, and overworking are some of the places we turn to that can start to tear down other areas of our lives.
Steps to living a balanced life
To boost your productivity, manage your stress, and unlock your true potential this year, here are a few quick steps to get you on the path to achieving a perfectly balanced life (or more realistically, getting as close as possible).
Take a break
Give yourself permission to unwind, relax and recharge. Take some time, even if just on your weekends, to disconnect from work and take part in your favourite activities. Taking a break from technology, or even just your social media for a day or two can work wonders for your life balance.
Take up a healthy new habit
That whole “New Year New You” rhetoric is old and played out. Ignore those messages demanding that you get buff and conquer the world, instead taking part in healthy behaviours that will benefit your overall life balance. Getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and nourished, and exercising in the great outdoors works wonders.
It’s time to curate your social media feed. Unfollow or mute anyone who leaves you feeling belittled or bullied after interactions, and steer clear of toxic messaging. Practice gratitude and surround yourself with positivity, as it’s essential for your own inner peace and happiness.
Get your ducks in a row
Getting your priorities in order means taking a close look at what’s really important. If your to-do lists and wish lists are over the top, your life balance will be off. Figuring out what’s really important to your overall life plan is key to a healthy life balance.
Working from home
For those working from home right now you’d know the struggle. With undeniable benefits, chief among them avoiding long commutes, there is also the problem of work bleeding into leisure time, a lack of incidental exercise, and isolation. In order to make sure work from home works from you, here are some top tips to consider.
- Set your hours (and stick to them!), if you respect your own boundaries, others are likely to do so as well.
- At lunch and when the day is done, do something to switch your work brain off, something that’s just for you and in no way related to your job. Extra points if it’s outside and active.
- Focus on your daytime. Yes, it’s hard when the dog is looking for attention and the neighbour pops in for a chat but it’s important to remember that whatever you don’t get done during the day will need to be done at night. In this case, it’s easy to break that separation between work and your real life will be lost.
- Stay in touch with your colleagues through messengers or catch ups. It doesn’t have to be every day, but staying connected is important.
- Make sure your work station mimics that of the office. Working propped up against a pillow in bed is a sure-fire way to ruin your back, which is why some businesses give allowance for furniture such as ergonomic chairs or desktop units.
Taking back control for a balanced life
Remember that you don’t find life balance, you create it. It might seem like work, but it’s definitely worth doing. If we set ourselves clear and achievable goals and work on some strategies that will target each element of our lives, we can make some real strides in creating a healthy and effective balance.