Time, Stress, and Health: Finding the Balance

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These days it’s hard to balance your stress and health amid what seems like the ever-diminishing time available. The good news is that with a little thoughtfulness, you can restructure your lifestyle to accommodate a plan that balances your time and health to keep your stress levels down. Here’s how.

Make a Commitment to Yourself
It’s easy to put everyone and everything else in your life first. Between work, the kids and the logistics of daily life, it’s easy to push your own needs further and further down the list until your own wellbeing is at the very bottom. When you make a commitment to improve your life, you’re taking the first step to bettering yourself inside and out, which means you can be a better friend/parent/spouse/boss/employee–and person–than ever before.

Set Realistic Expectations
Know that you’re not going to accomplish everything all at once. Oftentimes when we try to make big changes in our lives, we begin with ambitious plans that sound good on paper but then we quickly realize will be difficult to accomplish. This leads to discouragement, which ultimately works against us. By vowing to change a single simple thing at first, then adding to our goals over time, we can work our way up to massive changes without reaching a point where we feel overwhelmed and give up before ever really getting going.

Be Proactive
To put it simply: don’t procrastinate. Procrastination keeps you in stasis, unable to move forward. Often, the stress that comes from avoidance is much worse than the completion of the actual task itself. Make a commitment to yourself that you will start to cross some of those lingering items off your to-do list ASAP and see how great you feel when you’re basking in the sensation of accomplishment.

Schedule Time for Yourself
Everyone needs a break from the daily grind and we often think of “me time” as an ancillary part of our lives, not an integral part of our wellbeing. Actually set aside some “alone time” on your schedule, time for you to simply do the things you love to do. Work with the people in your life to block out periods when you can get in touch with yourself and your feelings. Whether it’s weekly workout time, quiet meditation in the mornings, a personal vacation or wellness retreat, or just some uninterrupted TV time, allowing yourself time to personally decompress can help counteract many of the other stresses in your day-to-day life.

Use Your Commute to Your Advantage
Lots of people squander their drive time in the morning, or worse yet, allow the stresses of traffic, kids, and trying to get to work and school on time actually compound their stress levels. Use your commute time (whether it be in the car, on the bus or subway, or walking or riding a bike) to do conscientious things like listening to calming meditation music or mentally or verbally listing things you’re grateful for.

Work Family Time into Your Workouts
Many people abandon their fitness goals because the demands of family life get in the way. Build up the bond between your family members by incorporating your children or spouse into your workouts. A brisk evening walk while pushing the children in strollers is a nice way to lull little ones into relaxation before bedtime. For older kids, a game of catch in the backyard or family-focused calisthenics before dinner can bring your brood closer together. Use a rewards chart to track success and keep the kids interested.

Most Importantly: Forgive Yourself
Lots of folks spend too much time beating themselves up for not accomplishing everything they set out to do. However, by berating yourself mentally, you simply add more stress to the stressful life you’re trying to balance out. Enjoy your progress day by day and just do your best. With time and applied effort, your patters and habits will start to change and your stressful life will get easier and easier to balance.

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