Ideas for Finding Balance
I give talks about mindful living and work-life balance to educators all over. Teachers and professors tend to be caring and giving by their nature. So giving, in fact, that they will work every evening and weekend (keep in mind, even worrying about work is you still at work). One of the main messages I give them is that we must create boundaries to protect ourselves from ourselves.
The fact is, most people (not just educators) don't even know what work-life balance looks like. They only know they don't have it because they are stressed. While we have less control over national trends that affect our workloads and workplaces, we do have control over how we shape our daily lives. So, let's talk about what work-life balance actually is.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, a healthy work-life includes
1. meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies;
2. having enough time to sleep properly and eat well;
3. not worrying about work when you’re at home.
Sounds easy...yet so much stuff can get in the way of these three things, right? But we don't need to conquer the mountain all in one go. There are small things we can do to cultivate an environment for ourselves that is more conducive to balance.
Create a grounding morning ritual
Examples: Wake a few minutes early to sip coffee in your favorite chair. Spend five minutes in a breath meditation. Spend a few minutes journaling about things in your life that you love.
A lunch break should be a break
Leave your desk during lunch and take time to really taste your food. Perhaps go for a short walk and look around and notice the beauty of small things. Regardless, take the break.
Create a comforting ritual for when you arrive home
Kids might need to be ushered to and from this or that, and dinner might need to be made and the dog walked...but, even still, give yourself five minutes to just sit down and feel contentment anyway. Think of all the things that went right that day, or find something about your home that makes you happy and just appreciate it. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your life.
Get outside each day, even if just for a few minutes.
There is a whole lot of solid research on the mental and physical benefits of being outside, even if it is merely sitting on your patio or stoop for a moment or two. We listen differently outside, and our eyes adjust to distances. Take time to do this simple thing for yourself.
Spend time every day doing something not work related that brings you joy
Creating, exercising, reading, baking...whatever it is, make time in your life for that every day. Our time here is too brief not to enjoy living.
Creating Mindful Spaces
I remember a friend once describing my house as "words everywhere." It's true. I surround myself with words of wisdom and calm so that my home inspires me.
Another friend said to me, "Oh, you're one of those people who like pillows all over." Well, yeah. They're freaking comfy! Ha! To me, comfort is the point of home.
I raised my son to expect a throw blanket to be on every sofa, because I always have them there. I mean, how else is one going to curl up?
So when we travel and the place we're staying doesn't have a throw blanket, it's hard for us to truly relax. Throw blankets are part of our ritual of peace.
Because if we don't surround ourselves with the things that help us find calm and purpose...
...how can we expect to know what calm and purpose are?