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Is There Such a Thing as Balance?

Many people struggle to make their careers fit with the needs of their families. Work, children, and significant others combine to form a juggling act of sorts. Add to that personal development, self-care, health and fitness — many end up feeling like they fall woefully short.

Fitness, work, and family don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Even if you can’t add more hours to your already busy day, there are things you can do to achieve positive results. It’s unlikely that you’ll be perfectly balanced in all areas of your life at once. That’s an unrealistic expectation many place on themselves—one that adds more stress to an already full plate. Perhaps the key is being joyfully lopsided in any given moment.

Prioritize the areas that are important to you right now and shift priorities as necessary. By eliminating the pressure of having to measure up to others’ ideals, you can create a life that feels more balanced. Here are some ways to create a better equilibrium, even when life isn’t perfect.

Make Time for Family

The idea of having a family meal together seems like an impossible task for some, but dinner isn’t the only meal you can have with your kids or significant other. If it’s late when you get home, have a healthy bedtime snack with your kids and use it to connect. Don’t convey the stress of work. Reset and have a lighthearted conversation about the exciting highlights of your day.

If you can’t spend time with your spouse or your children every night, designate one night a week as a special night. Friday night can be Lego night or game night with the kids. Saturday can be a date night with your mate.

Exercise, nutrition, and family can also be combined for healthier bodies and relationships. Maybe your kids can ride their bikes along with you as you jog, or you can go hiking as a family. One weekend a month can be dedicated to teaching your teens how to cook healthy foods. Not only will they learn a valuable life skill, but teaching your kids about taking care of themselves and being healthy lays an excellent foundation for the years ahead.

Make Time for Yourself

You’ve heard the flight safety speech so many times you don’t even listen anymore, but you remember this above all else: If something goes wrong, put the oxygen mask on yourself before you try to help anyone else. You can’t help anyone else if you’re unconscious or dead.

The same rules apply to your life. You can’t be a good coworker, employer, spouse, parent, or friend if your physical and emotional well-being isn’t optimal. Fatigue, moodiness, and life-threatening diseases are just a few of the negative side-effects of eating poorly and not getting enough exercise, sleep, or waking rest. Experts say even a short period of repose can be just as beneficial for your health as exercise.

Five to 20 minutes of quiet, reflective thought that allows the brain time to consider and process whatever arises spontaneously is called waking rest. Researchers say doing this once or multiple times a day is a pillar of good mental and physical health.

Even if you don’t have time to meditate, you can still get waking rest while folding laundry, doing yard work, or walking the dog. Taking a relaxing walk during lunch or a break at work can give you time to process your thoughts so you can be more creative during the day and sleep better at night.

Nothing Just Happens

Achieving more balance requires strategy because the world around you never stops. If you feel like you’re swimming in the ocean with no land in sight, reflecting on what you value most and determining what works best for you is a valuable exercise. Bonding with loved ones, rest, and self-care aren’t things you do when you’ve finished everything else. If you want these things, you must build them into your daily life and fine-tune as necessary.

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