I know, I know, it seems trite to say that YOU create your life balance and somehow you are to blame for all the stress and negative experiences that come from the multiple demands on your time.
Well you are responsible, at least in part.
I hear the voices in the crowd start to rumble…
Ok, ok! Before you start thinking that I am completely insensitive, please hear me out. I have grown tired of hearing the phrase “victim blaming” whenever there is a suggestion that a human just may have some power to negatively or positively influence their current situation. My whole professional world is about helping people navigate that very path, the one that leads to personal empowerment, a sense of agency and autonomy. We are never 100% responsible for our situation, but we absolutely have power over our perceptions (State-of-Mind), our ability to accept what is (Radical Acceptance), our ability to navigate the situation, to make a new plan and try something different or unexpected (Psychological Flexibility)….even if you don’t want to (inner child tantrum).
I think that the most detrimental mindset for for our mental health and wellbeing, is the state of feeling that you are completely helpless in a situation. This is a terrible state! I am sure we have all wired our brains into that proverbial corner before. I know I have, and I now work very hard at unwiring that yucky state with skills I have learned and continue to practice them often.
This perspective may help you to get your mind around
Radical Acceptance and our ability to choose…
Way, back in 2002, I was introduced to the Serenity Prayer, which I have found to be a useful reminder for me to stop the mental chatter around not being “good enough” because I am trying to tackle everything like a life badge of honour or “wishing things were different” (common chatter for me). You can ignore the “God” part of this prayer if that is not your jam, just take the meaning and guidance around courage and wisdom….and choice.
And now to interrupt our regularly scheduled human brain programming (chatter -[negative stuff about me] – chatter – “I suck” – chatter– “I feel hopeless” – chatter – “why is this happening to me?” – chatter – “I wish I had a better life” – chatter – “I am a useless procrastinator” – chatter – blah blah blah…
For the next 800 or so words, how about we all suspend this programming and open up the possibility that our brain programming can be different and we can learn to become open to new ways of approaching life so that we can actually enjoy it.
Mind Opening Gems
Here are a few little gems that I have come across in my life and collected in a folder (yes I am old school! Stop laughing about the folder). They may help you get into a curious and open state of mind which is needed to start your brain on a path to a life balance re-wiring …
- “No matter how busy you are, or how busy you think you are, the work will always be there tomorrow, but your friends might not be”. This, my friend is the essence of life. Our social group. It must be maintained for our wellbeing. Science actually does support this evolutionary function. So go see your friends!
- “The more often you decline invitations to spend time with friends or family because you are too busy with either work or other activities, the more you should realize that your life is not in balance”. This is a great indicator. Just notice how much you use this explanation and then not do what is actually in your best interest, and make a commitment to do just that. Your brain will <3 you back. You are never too busy for what gives you joy and makes you psychologically healthy.
- You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us. For a healthy balance in your life there are choices to be made, choices that have consequences good/meh/bad. Just start with accepting that anything worthwhile will likely come with a bit of sacrifice. #HealthySacrifice
Just a reminder that this post is part of a 10-part series designed to help you get out and do things that improve your mental health and wellbeing. #PsychoSocialMentalHealth
Series: 10 Things You Can Do to Be Nice to Your Brain
- Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity
- Be Open to New Information
- Learn to Reframe Adversity
- You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
- Zone in on Your Purpose in Life
- Mastering Motivation a.k.a Setting a Fire Under Your Butt!
- Seek Out Peak Experiences and Give Your Brain a Little Party!
- Apply the “Power of Yet” in Your Life! Yes, Trix are for Kids, but a Growth Mindset is Not Just for Kids!
- TODAY! Stop Tripping Up Your Life and Learn the Art of Balance.
- Stay True to Your Values – Who do YOU want to be in this world?
*Science says Resource Allocation may help.
Rethinking the Work–Life Interface:
It’s Not about Balance, It’s about Resource Allocation
Researchers Grawitch, Barber & Justice (2010), wrote a pretty great journal article proposing a different ways of looking a how we use the time that we have. They introduce introduce a “personal resource allocation (PRA) framework that treats all life demands—whether preferred or required—as forcing individuals to make choices about where, when, and how they expend their personal resources across the life domain”.
They drew on current research findings and grounded their approach in three great self-regulatory psychological theory areas: Perceptual Control Theory, Self‐determination Theory and Conservation of Resources Theory. I gave some links in case you were feeling a little nerdy and wanted more information 🙂
The Take-away Strategies from This Research:
- Expand Resources: Expanding your pool of available resources, means asking yourself things like, “Who can help me with some of my life tasks?”, “Can I work longer hours at work or start a side hussle for more money?”, “What am I willing to put on hold for now until I have the resources?”….
- Energy Increase: Work on increasing your personal energy. I know, I hear you screaming, how can I even do one more thing!?!? Well, here is some nerdy science to help you prioritize your life:
- “health literature has provided considerable evidence to suggest that exercise (Puetz, 2006), nutrition (Allen & Armstrong, 2006), and sleep (Kong, Shepel, Holden, Mackiewicz, Pack, & Geiger, 2002) can all assist in producing more energy, which can be marshaled toward the successful completion of life demands” *These also contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing
- Enlightened Approach: You take an active part in your life and how it unfolds by making more enlightened decisions. Which means making choices about where you spend your time, be clear why it is important , how it adds to your life and start allocating your personal resources to things that best fit the life you are wanting to live. Yes! this does take a lot of work, but this work is way easier than complaining that you have no power or control in your life.
If you don’t like the way your life is working out, start changing your focus to what you have power over. Try a new approach. Take a risk and do something completely different and blow your mind!
How to Gain Control of Your Free Time
with Laura Vanderkam
Learn to build the life you want with the time that you’ve got.
Regaining Your Life Balance Recipe
*all ingredients are within you, they may need a little practice and development.
- Add a little Radical Acceptance to start the process of accepting that “it is what it is”, let go of the stuck-ness in your life, open your mind and move toward a different “next step” experience..
- Sprinkle in a smidge of Emotional Intelligence to help you navigate your world with all available emotional information.
- Depending on the flavour of the desired outcome, add a little Emotion Regulation to get you through a difficult task, or to help you with uncomfortable boundary setting and begin deploying different strategies for that different outcome.
- Stir in a healthy handful of Psychological Flexibility.
- Divide up your resources with a “Personal Resource Allocation Measuring Cup” (specially created by you, for you, for your life balance).
If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative. Know when to close the account. Ask yourself the following questions to start your journey of balance awareness:
What does life balance mean to you?
Why do you need life balance?
How do you practice life balance?
What do you want to incorporate into your life?
What are the characteristics of someone practicing the art of life balance?
What are your essential components for life balance?
Life balance is a process, not a destination.
Tell me about your journey!
#YouGotThis #LiveFully #MentalWellness
Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.
Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Student Success
- Puetz, T.W. (2006). Physical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue: Epidemio-
logical evidence. Sports Medicine, 36, 767–780.
- Allen, T.D., & Armstrong, J. (2006). Further examination of the link between work–
family conflict and physical health: The role of health-related behaviors.
American Behavioral Scientist, 49, 1204–1221.
- Kong, J., Shepel, P.N., Holden, C.P., Mackiewicz, M., Pack, A.I., & Geiger, J.D.
(2002). Brain glycogen decreases with increased periods of wakefulness: Implications for homeostatic drive to sleep. Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 5581–5587