Stress Relief and Work-Life Balance through Mindfulness

How's your work-life balance? Do you ever feel like your life is too busy for living—like there's just not enough time for authentic connection with those you love? And are you fooled to believe it's a time management problem?

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Are You Overwhelmed? 

Feeling overwhelmed can stop us in our tracks. Last week, after tending to the messages on my business landline and my cell phone, as well as answering texts and emails, there were still important tasks tugging on me: invoicing, proposals to write, and business trainings to plan for.

On a personal side, there was a phone message from my brother (I was waiting for the ideal time to be able to chat); a pile of family pictures gathering dust to send to my mother-in-law; checking on a neighbor who recently lost her husband; and one of my closest friends in Iowa still waiting for me to call her back. And on top of these to-dos, a visit from my daughter was imminent. Exciting for sure!... yet another guest visiting required my already over-taxed attention.

So, I was feeling a little cheated by time. Like one client told me, "I feel like every day I have to choose who to disappoint." Hmm... found myself here.

At the end of each day, there hasn't been enough time or energy left over to genuinely connect with those I love. And my body is aching for exercise, but all I want to do is plug into a Netflix marathon and check out.

Cheated by time? How could I be cheated if everyone has the same amount of time? And honestly, each moment we're the ones choosing where to put our focus, aren't we? My life felt a little off-kilter. It felt like I'd lost that strong connection to my deepest values: loving relationships, service, nature, health, and learning.

What Is the Overwhelmed Definition?

The dictionary definition of overwhelmed means: to be overpowered by a superior force, covered over by a mass of something, buried with excessive amounts of anything. Sounds about right!

My definition is more visual: When we're feeling overwhelmed we're trying to push an entire orange through the tiny neck of a funnel. Doesn't work. Will never happen... until you cut it in half and juice it!

Juicing orange juice with the right tools is fun and easy—even a child can do it!

Smiling father and his preschool son juicing oranges in the kitchen.

We all need to learn how to navigate stress and overwhelm effectively in our lives and create a work-life balance that's right for us.

What are some tools that create ease and flow in your life?

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Breaking big projects down into manageable tasks.
  • Celebrating milestones and accomplishments.
  • Doing a mindfulness exercise when I'm stuck on a project.
  • Breathing deep for a few minutes and intentionally releasing stress with each exhale.
  • Organizing my frequently used folders and accessories conveniently.
  • Connecting new habits with familiar actions that are already on auto-pilot.

How to Deal with Overwhelming Stress:  Use Mindfulness to Reset Yourself

Back to my story: I was beginning to question what creates a life of ease and fulfillment—and if it was even possible! 

Just when I thought I had lost my balance, another lovely guest visited: a Western Tanager! A splash of color and a messenger of peace. From my back patio, I watched him flit from branch to branch in our Japanese Crab Apple trees. He reminded me of BEING. I had been so busy DOING and GIVING that I had surrendered peace of mind for the angst of getting things done.

Related reading: "How to Boost Your Joy, Career and Love Life by Mindfulness."

Western Tanager in Japanese Crab Apple treeEvery once in a while, we have to take a BIG step back and re-focus on who and what is most precious to us. This week, I have that Western Tanager to thank for helping me press the reset button.

The cool thing: I only made a few minor but critical changes that have made the biggest difference. That's the thing about mindfulness and living in the present moment; it doesn't take much time but has tremendous leverage and always helps regain balance. Absorbing myself in watching that little bird helped me let go and realize my stress was self-created.

Change Your Perspective to  Shift Your Attitude—Then Take Action!

One of the best ways to shift out of overwhelming feelings and stress is by changing our perspective. The tanager awakened me.

Here's what I did after regaining my perspective:

1) I reserved time in my upcoming schedule exercise and nature walks, and I blocked off two half days for catchup, one for personal and one for work.

2) I booked dedicated time to spend with my family.

3) I prioritized the most important items and put the rest of my to-do list in my mental storage shed and many projects got parked on a  parking lot list for when I was ready.

Now it feels like my life has been recalibrated, my sense of well-being has returned, and I've realigned with my values.  Aww. . . my heart is light again!

Work-life balance is an art, one we must continually refine as our relationships and life change. Sometimes it's the small things that refresh us most. The key is mindfulness. It's only a decision away to move from stressful thinking to the mindset of being present.

Thank you Western Tanager for gracing me with the joy of your beautiful presence.

Related reading: "Know the Difference between Healthy and Chronic Stress"

For personalized support or to learn more about mindful living, contact us at Heartmanity!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity FounderJennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity Founder
Jennifer’s passion is to help people create thriving relationships. She coaches individuals, parents, and couples to build healthy and loving families. Jennifer has been conducting premarital workshops and mentoring couples for nearly two decades. She teaches couples the critical skills needed to break out of unloving patterns, which naturally removes the obstacles to loving connection and authentic communication. With an emphasis on emotional intelligence and brain science, her proven process accelerates transformation. She also conducts Heal Yourself, Heal Your Marriage retreats because she believes that all healthy relationships begin within each person. Jennifer is happily married to her beloved husband and is the mother of three grown children.

Posted in Brain Fitness, Mindfulness and Perspective

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