Well friends I have to say that this is the golden rule that I am worst at. I am the kind of person that will be really excited about a new project. I live breathe and eat the project. It’s loads of fun and can be completely intoxicating but it bring stress into the equation which can also be really dangerous to my health. You see if I do this, I lose the balance in my life and balance is key to staying well and staving off depression.
Achieving balance is about managing your stress. It’s about monitoring how your life is looking and putting your hand up and saying no more when things become too much for you. It’s about admitting when you are at your limit. This is not an easy thing to do particularly if you have people depending on you or the project that you are doing you are passionate about. To maintain good mental health for the long term however, it’s so important to achieve this balance. So how do we do this? Here are my tips for maintaining balance in your life:
- Make a list for your day or even your week. Write two columns. Fill the first column with things that you need to do in the day, these are all the things that are non-negotiable. This might include going to work, doing the dishes or looking after the kids. In the second column, write down all the things that you would like to do in the day but that are not essential (it’s important to include here fun things that make you feel good). So, things in this column might be having coffee with a friend, walking the dog or vacuuming the floor. Be mindful of how much you are putting in this column. Don’t overload yourself. The day is short, and you can’t fit everything into one day. Which brings me to tip two.
- Once you have a list of things you need and want to do, cut it in half. I am the worst at taking on too much. I want to achieve so much in a day, and I seem to always overestimate what can be achieved, I get overwhelmed and anxious and end up achieving very little. If I cut my to do list in half, I stand a much better chance of achieving all that I have on my list. This helps me feel productive and accomplished which adds to my good mental health. Of course, my list varies according to how well I’m feeling. Some days my list includes getting up, having coffee and brushing my hair. Other days it includes all of that plus walking, completing housework and attending a course. It alters depending on how well you’re doing at the time.
- Listen to those around you. Are your loved ones saying to you that you look tired or stressed? Are they concerned about how much you have on your plate? If your loved ones are noticing your red flags, pay attention. Often others notice our red flags before we do, so listen carefully to what people are saying to you, the words they use and their concerns. They may just be right on the money.
- We cannot do all things and be all things to everyone. As much as we would like to be able to be to do all that we set out to, sometimes this is just not realistic. So, take stock. If work is particularly busy and stressful, find a way to reduce your stress at home. If family relationships are stressful, find a way to reduce your workload so that you can better deal with your stress. This is not an easy thing to do and sometimes it involves making some pretty tough decisions, but ultimately staying mentally healthy is your primary job. Everything else revolves around that, because if you don’t have good mental health, everything suffers, including you.
So, managing your stress is essential to staying well. Notice your red flags and adjust your sails accordingly. Finding balance is life is key. While projects can be fun and all consuming, what we need to keep focus on is what improves our mental health. What makes us feel good, productive and accomplished and what is too much for us. It’s ok to admit we have limits. That doesn’t make us less of a person. It makes us mentally healthy. And that is the most important thing!