In search of balance

Sometimes the day’s chores can seem overwhelming, but there are ways to create a fresh rhythm to life that has room for work, play and downtime…

Here we share ideas that can help to achieve a rewarding lifestyle balance as well as some valuable tools to help you stay centred.

1 Get up earlier

In his book The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod suggests getting up super early before anyone else is awake. In the quiet stillness of the early hours you can plough through tasks that would be difficult to manage during a normal day. Start with small steps – set the alarm just 15 minutes earlier and use that time to do something that will help you focus on the day ahead. Maybe meditate for a few minutes: practise a one-minute ritual to help you to stop, inhale and reset.

2 Plan ahead

This can be helpful in staying productive and organised, especially when trying to fit new things into a schedule, or to maintain willpower. Willpower is a finite resource – people only have a set amount of it each day – so try not to waste it on trivial rather than good decisions. If you plan ahead, simple things like meals for the day or week, it takes away the need for willpower or decision making and then these resources are available for other things, like being creative, or concentrating on goals.

3 Give yourself ‘grey time’

Each day tends to begin with a plan. Within it there are different blocks of time: meetings, the day’s jobs or tasks, and grey time. The latter is important to stay aligned – it’s a space to think and review. Remember to plan it into the diary however relentless your schedule.

4 Say no

You can say no. So many people agree to do things, even pretend they would love to, when inside they’re secretly wondering how to fit everything in. There are only 24 hours in the day – and some of those need to be spent taking care of yourself. It is perfectly normal to feel guilty about saying no, so offer an alternative instead: ‘I can’t do that, but I could do this.’ Soften the blow by saying no in a pleasant way: ‘Thank you so much for thinking of me. It sounds like a great idea, but at the moment I’m pretty overstretched and I’d hate to let you down, so I’ll have to say no for now. Do, however, keep me in mind for next time.’ Any guilt felt at the time will quickly be replaced by a wave of relief and empowerment.

5 Edit your to-do list – and be ruthless

How many of the things on your list really need to be done? What can you delegate or outsource? Cut down the to-do list to two or three things a day. When the to-do list is short, it’s easier to feel more positive about reaching the end, so you are able to get more done. It sounds counterintuitive, and it is, but it works.

6 Have a clear-out

Tackle that neglected drawer, empty the in-box and start afresh, donate old belongings to charity (see our feature on page 50 for some handy tips). Whatever you decide to do it is important. It will give a sense of accomplishment and make you feel empowered to tackle other tasks. And you will have more ‘breathing space’ to help create balance.

7 Think positive

Choose not to be negative, not to look backwards, not to let petty things get you down and only think about positive outcomes and solutions. This way you won’t waste energy on negative factors.

8 Be kind to yourself

Rather than think about the things you could have done better, get into the habit of celebrating what you have done well. It is important to reward yourself for your achievements, large and small. And remember these high points when things go wrong – as they invariably do. You are what you choose to be in life.

9 Natural help

It is not cheating to enlist a little natural help. With some aromatherapy wisdom, stress can be managed and calm instilled in challenging situations. Aromatherapy is the ancient art and science of using naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonise and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. When inhaled, the aromatic molecules of the extracted plant’s essential oils stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages to the limbic system. These therapeutic molecules have the ability to trigger emotional and mental responses, and when combined with mindful breathing can help people to let go of negative thoughts