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Lately I've been getting real and sharing how our imperfections and struggles can actually help people more. With that, I've opened up about burning out and needing to take more time for self-care.
While I don't believe a work-life balance exists in the way of a perfect 50/50, I DO believe in the ebbs and flows. I believe in pulling ourselves back to a home base and remaining self-aware.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, this is one of my favorite quotes:
"Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel." - Eleanor Brownn
And of course, my own motto is: When you feel your best, you'll do your best.
Today we have Per Wickstrom sharing his 5 favorite tips for work-life balance.
Per struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for decades. Thankfully he found help through a rehab program and began his path to recovery. He has a passion for helping others and went on to develop his own drug rehab program.
Per understands the power of helping one another. He's learned a great deal about the importance of self-care in business and entrepreneurship.
I appreciate and respect his journey, so I couldn't turn down the opportunity to have him share.
Please join the discussion and share your own self-care and balance tips in the comments!
5 Tips for Keeping Work-Life Balance
On the road to professional success, it can be easy to lose sight of your personal life. When work is your focus, seeing loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and taking time for yourself often fall to the wayside. But it’s important for your mental health and the well-being of your family to find a balance between work and home. Here are a few tips for maintaining a happy work-life balance:
1 | Meditate
Whether you do it in the morning when you wake up, or just before starting work to get you focused, set aside time to meditate each day. We’re so quick to move straight into the next activity that we rarely pause to appreciate the transitions throughout the day. Our minds should get to take a moment to relax and reboot!
2 | Focus your attention on one item at a time
You probably have a lot of different responsibilities to take care of on a daily basis, so it’s understandable that they might be on your mind. But if you can learn to focus completely on the task at hand, you’ll not only be happier, you’ll be more productive. Leave work at work and keep home off your mind as much as possible.
3 | Eliminate distractions
Emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s not fair to suggest you leave your phone completely out of reach while at work. You can, however, limit your vulnerability to false alarms and interruptions. If you work a desk job, for example, that might mean turning your personal phone on airplane mode while you finish working on a project. If you’re at home, it means turning off your phone and any alerts about work. Be in the present moment where you are.
If you work at a desk job or somewhere you can be on your phone, don’t sit on social media all day. Limit yourself to only work-related websites, and if you find yourself feeling tempted, there are even apps you can install on your browser that will block unproductive sites.
4 | Remind yourself of your motivations
You may tell yourself that it’s all for the family, but if you think you might be overworking, reexamine your motivation. Why are you working so much? If it’s to provide a better life for your family, make sure you’re not sacrificing vital time with them now. Sure, a third grade production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” may seem like a little thing to miss if there’s a multi-million dollar deal on the table, but consider that you may be losing your family little thing by little thing.
5 | Celebrate holidays
Don’t skip the holidays. Sure, they’re a day that you could really get ahead. But it’s a free day off! Make the most of it! See your best friend, hang out with your kids, visit the local park, or even simply appreciate a few hours of extra sleep. You ever notice how holidays tend to come at times when you could really use a break? Embrace it.
Finding success in your professional life doesn’t have to mean giving up the rest of your values and hobbies. By finding the right balance, you can excel in any area and even use the different hats you wear to work in each others favor.
Per Wickstrom is the CEO ofBest Drug Rehabilitation Center. Founded on the principles of natural healing, BDR is one of the largest holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He is a recovering addict and firm believer that everyone has the power to make healthy changes for themselves. To learn more, follow Per on Twitter and Facebook.
Whether you're in school, working in the corporate world or running your own business, I'm a supporter of mental health days. These aren't days where you skip out on responsibility just because you feel like it. These are days when you can't focus, feel exhausted and know you need a break.
Taking a day off is especially challenging for entrepreneurs. Each hour we don't work, we miss out on money. Most entrepreneurs don't take vacation days, personal days, or sick days for the first 1-3 years while they're getting their business up and running. It took me almost a full year to feel comfortable taking a 3 day vacation, and I still scramble to make up the hours and feel guilty for not being available for my clients.
There was a day last month when I knew I needed a mental health day. I woke up feeling down, irritable and unmotivated. My writing was uninspired, so I worked on little tasks. I had two appointments (dentist and orthopedist) who both told me my pain is caused from stress. I'm grinding my teeth at night (despite wearing a mouth guard) and irritating my tendinitis by working too much. (Stress and working too much are likely not the cause of my tendinitis, but is keeping it inflamed.)
So I took the day off, for the most part. I tried to exercise to boost endorphins and then ended up going to our local frozen yogurt bar and ate nothing but sugar for dinner. I read a new book on my kindle and took 2 naps. But you know what? By 8pm I felt rejuvenated. Was it just a hormonal thing? Or did taking the afternoon to relax help? It's hard to say, but when I woke up the next morning inspired and raring to go- I didn't care which it was that helped me.
I know there's a lot of advice out there saying that the only way to make it as an entrepreneur is to push through the days you don't feel like working, write even if you're uninspired, etc. I want to challenge that just a little.
[Tweet "Take days off to get re-motivated + rejuvenated. Mental health days are vital."]
Do something different from your normal routine.
If you're sick, take the time off to get better. Build vacations into your schedule. Block them out in advance. Set your blog and social media posts up in advance, or ask for some guest post while you're out.
You NEED this time. It's too easy to burn out, between trying to keep up with writing, advertising, connecting, learning.
Stop feeling guilty for taking time off. New experiences and relaxation open you up to new ideas and possibilities, and those are what will take your business to the next level.
Do you take mental health days? If you're an entrepreneur, how do you handle vacation time?
I'm pretty open about my anxiety in case I'm able to help anyone else who experiences it. I suffer from general anxiety and probably some social anxiety. On top of being an introvert, it can get pretty overwhelming. Generalized anxiety disorder is "...a mental health condition in which a person is often worried or anxious about many things and finds it hard to control this anxiety.(PubMed Health)" Basically, if it interferes with your every day life it's most likely generalized anxiety.
Social anxiety is defined by Psychology Today as, "...an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations."
WebMD states, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18% of adults, according to leading specialists in anxiety treatment."
As I've gotten further into studying holistic health, I've come across a few natural ways to deal with anxiety. I'll save the herbs, teas, and foods for another post. Today we're going to explore the psychological aspect. While I am not against medical intervention for these disorders, there are a few other ways I recommend trying first. To me, aside from calming techniques, feeling like I have more control over the situation helps tremendously.
Use these four prompts to help you feel more in control:
List the facts about the situation. What about your anxiety is true and part of the present moment?
List the worries that are hypothetical. What about this situation is based in the future? What do you have no control over?
List 5 things you can do right now to relax. This might include taking deep breaths, exercising, taking a bubble bath, meditating, etc.
List 3 things you can do to take control of the situation. Maybe you can call family and friends to help you work through the situation, make a list of ways to save money if that's what's bothering you, etc.
This article from MindBodyGreen gives 5 ways of coping with your anxiety that are actually making it worse.
Use this worksheet to regain control of your anxiety:
If you suffer from anxiety, how do you ease it? What are your go-to ways for feeling more in control?
Before you grab that pint of Ben & Jerry's, pop a Xanax or hit the mall, take a few deep breaths and try one of the options below. Chances are "retail therapy" will only leave you more stressed, because according to this Washington Post article, "73% of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level." In fact, "54% of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives." It sounds like everyone could use a few pick-me-ups! The following options are free or low cost techniques you can start applying immediately:
Get Physical: 1. Take a walk and feel the sun on your face. 2. Practice yoga. 3. Run, bike, swim, dance- anything that makes you sweat. "Runner's High" is from a rush of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that will improve your mood and act as a pain reliever.
Entice the Senses: 4. Burn an aromatherapy candle 5. Dab lavender or chamomile essential oils on your wrists 6. Drink soothing tea like chamomile. 7. Chew (sugar-free) gum. This has been connected with relieving cortisol, a stress hormone. 8. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate. 9. Sip a nutrition-filled green smoothie. The sweetness will be comforting while the nutrients will help keep your body on track.
Slow Down and Relax: 10. Take a bath with Epsom salt (Epsom salt with chamomile essential oil is my favorite!) 11. Meditate, even if it's as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on a few deep breaths. 12. Take a time out with a warm shower. 13. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing one muscle group at a time. 14. Take a short break from technology- namely your Smart Phone.
Connect With Others: 15. Call an old friend or family member. Talking to someone else can help you put things in perspective, laugh, reminisce about the past, or relieve stress just through venting. 16. Pet an animal. 17. Smile, even if it's forced. 18. Snuggle, kiss or simply hug a loved one to relieve stress hormones and increase positive feelings.
Other Options: 16. Write out your feelings. Burn them later if it'll help you let go. 20. For on-going relief, start a gratitude journal. Writing just a few things every day that you're thankful for has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the writer's happiness. 21. Put it in perspective. Make a list of immediate actions you can take and the things you can't change. 22. Find video clips on YouTube that make you laugh. 23. Sing loudly to your favorite tunes
What's your favorite way to immediately reduce stress? Share it in the comments below to help others!
A version of this post appeared first on MindBodyGreen. See all of my MBG posts here.
Do you want to lose the weight of distraction, stress and tension immediately? Put the smart phone down and plan a technology cleanse. Does the thought of going without your iPhone cause anxiety? Do you get distracted by social media every time you're connected to the internet? Have you started 7 projects this week but completed 0? Or maybe you're feeling increasingly lonely despite having hundreds of "friends" on Facebook.
Experts recommend tech detoxes to help us unplug from devices and reconnect with those we love.
While I'm extremely grateful for technology, there are a few downsides. Headaches and eye strain, disconnecting with family and friends, long sedentary hours, loss of true focus from being pulled in so many directions, etc. So, I highly recommend giving a technology cleanse a try.
How to Do a Technology Cleanse:
Step 1: Set your intentions
What do you want to achieve or what is the purpose of doing the cleanse? Reconnect with your partner, spend more time writing, stop wasting time on phone apps, reconnect with nature, find new inspiration, become more centered and focused, stop the comparison trap on social media, etc.
How long will you disconnect? One day? A weekend? Maybe you'll dive into a full week?
Will you do this alone, with your partner or maybe a group of friends? Getting your partner or a few friends on board will help you ease into it and provide a great support system.
Who do you need to tell? If you're usually very connected and disappear for a few days, people might start to worry!
Step 2: Plan Your Cleanse
What will you remove? What will you keep, even if just for emergencies? If you're wandering into the woods to reconnect with nature, it might be a good idea to keep your cell phone for emergencies! Maybe you have a list of books to catch up on, but they're all on your Kindle. There are no rules. You're setting this cleanse up for yourself and your own personal goals.
What will you do? Camp or take a walk in nature, catch up on books you'd like to read, explore a town, cook at home or take cooking classes, meditate, attend a yoga retreat or local workshop, spend time with friends and family, write that e-book you've been dreaming of, etc.
How will you avoid temptation? I recommend planning out multiple activities and ideas on what you'd like to do to keep yourself prepared. Write your intentions on a piece of paper and stick it to your mirror.
Step 3: Disconnect!
Even if writing isn't part of your intention, writing down a few thoughts and feelings each day is a good idea. Are you feeling anxious, bored, lonely, excited, untethered, free, relaxed, etc.?
Step 4: Reflect
What did you gain?
How do you feel?
Would you do this again?
Does technology have any negative effects on your life and work? Have you ever tried a technology cleanse?