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?
Last week, after tending to the messages on my business and cell phones, answering texts and emails, there were still important tasks tugging on me: invoicing, proposals to write, and trainings to plan. 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 stopped in to visit: Overwhelm.
So, I've been feeling a little cheated by time. 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.
Sometimes we can get buried under an avalanche of demands in our life. Maybe you've got it figured out, but balance is something I strive for continually. Aligning with my core values is important to me, and spending time with the people I love is nonnegotiable. And then there's my passion for helping people through my work.
Use Mindfulness to Reset Yourself
I was beginning to question what creates a life of ease and fulfillment. 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."
Every once in a while, I have to take a BIG step back and re-focus on who and what is most precious to me. 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 me 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
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 for exercise and nature walks and blocked off two half days for catch-up, 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.
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 graceful presence.
Related reading: "Know the Difference between Healthy and Chronic Stress"
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