Most of us, when we move through our lives at such a fast pace, find that it is tough to think of ourselves as having time for anything else. We run from one appointment to the next, from one task to the next, and before we know it, we are burned out and exhausted. It is important to focus on finding time to do other things that help us find a balanced focus in living our busy life. The old adage "all work and no play" is quite appropriate here, and gives an important lesson on finding time to do less stressful things that bring joy into our lives (even if doing the work we do does that as well). We need to create a life that is filled with a myriad of experiences, ones that create rest and renewal but also connect us to new adventures, making new friends (or keeping in contact with the old ones), and providing time for healing.
The rat race world for most of us, leads to many different negative healthy issues, and the behavior of always tasking or running from here to there catches up with us sooner or later. Some of us work 80+ hours a week, and find little time for sleep. Some of us sleep for 80 hours a week and work less than a normal day. Some of us shop, or travel excessively. Some of us eat too much out of emotional needs, or eat too little in an effort to lose weight. We do all sort of things to excess - good or bad. Unless we focus on creating a balanced approach to living out lives, we find that the things we are doing are taking control of us, rather than us being in control. Finding moderation in all things can be challenging, but not impossible.
You might be asking, "where do I begin?". Well, in this kind of situation, it is best to start out making small changes, giving you time to adjust to new routines and ways of doing things. You don't have to change all your behaviors at once, but you may eventually recognize that that there are many areas that need your attention. Asking yourself some questions like "What is one thing I can do this week, to remove some stress or pressure from my schedule?", or "Can I cut back a few hours of work to get more sleep?". How about finding time to just sit and read a book for a half hour, or watch a comedy before rushing into the kitchen to do dishes right after walking in the door? The issues you are facing in your life are yours to address, but to be aware of their impact is hugely important in maintaining your mental, emotional, and even physical health.
When you get to the place where you are adopting new behaviors and changing old ones to reflect more balance, your outlook on life will also change dramatically. You will feel better, eat better, sleep better, enjoy other healthy activities, and find a new joy (or rediscover the one you might have left behind), in living a life that is well balanced. This will take time, and you don't have to be perfect at it. Creating a balanced life requires patience, flexibility, openness to change, and an awareness of what needs work in your life. Sometimes a counselor or friend can be helpful is identifying those areas that need attention. Seeking out that assistance is great way to gain outside objectivity, and allows others the chance to be open and honest with you as you explore this process. May you find the joy and peace that comes with being in and creating balance for your life.
Shawn Thomas Berthel M.S., is the owner of Life Path Counseling PLLC, and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. He lives in University Place, Washington.