HealthWise By Suzie Reinsvold

Find Your Inner Balance

November 19th, 2013 – Everyone wants to be able to do it all, and do it well. We want to be the most valuable employee, number one spouse, world’s best mom, exercise aficionado and cooking connoisseur. As much as we try to accomplish that, there are only so many hours in the day and commitments we can handle. Managing a career, a family, a social life, and ensuring health and well-being can be difficult and, often is, in this “always on” “always available” world we live in. With the constant pressure we put on ourselves, what it comes down to is cultivating an individual philosophy that is not as much about having it all, but about having what matters!

A new definition of success with regard to work-life balance is emerging in today’s hectic environment and one that incorporates balance and flow between each aspect of our lives. While that sounds good in theory – how do we accomplish this? Many days “balance” does not feel like it is an attainable goal. But work-life balance is not out of reach.

Start by evaluating what is important to you. By defining your priorities, you can prevent life from getting out of balance and from sacrificing the things that matter most to you.

Consider these ideas to help you achieve a healthier balance:

• Keep track of your time. Pay attention to your to-do list, including work-related and personal activities. Decide what's necessary and cut or delegate activities you do not enjoy or cannot handle. If you are feeling overwhelmed share your concerns and possible solutions with colleagues or family. In order to feel balanced, it is important to manage yourself and your priorities.

• Take advantage of your options. Ask your employer about a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility.

• Learn to say no. We tend to want to or feel the need to “do it all.” Whether it's a co-worker asking you to take the lead on an additional project or your child's coach asking you to organize a team party, remember that it's okay to respectfully say no. When you stop taking on additional tasks, you'll have more time for the activities that are meaningful to you and you are ensuring that you can devote high-quality time to them.

• Draw the line between work and home. With smartphones and tablets able to connect you to anyone at any time, oftentimes there is no boundary between work and home — unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When you are at home, set limits such as not checking your work email after 7 p.m. or during dinner.

• Actually use your home space and work space. The more time you spend doing only home related things at home and only work related things at work, the more you'll develop the mindset that will prompt the associations you want in either place.

• Nurture yourself. Eat a balanced diet, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep. Set aside time each day for an activity that brings you joy such as yoga, meditating or reading. Consider taking up new activities that you can do with a friend or a loved one.

• Boost your support system. At work, team up with co-workers who can assist you – and vice versa – when family conflicts come up. At home, recruit trusted friends and loved ones to help with child care or household responsibilities when you need to work overtime or travel.

Keep in mind, reaching a healthy balance between work and home life takes time and is a continuous process. As your family, friends, interests and work life change, your priorities will shift. Occasionally, check in and examine your priorities. If necessary, make changes and adjustments, to make sure you're staying on track.

At times if your life feels too hectic to manage, talk with a professional – such as a counselor or other mental health provider. Everyone needs help from time to time. If your employer offers an employee assistance program, take advantage of available services. By implementing some of these ideas and you’ll take your first step to getting what you need, a healthier place of balance and peace.

(Suzie Reinsvold is the chief operating officer for Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.)