In life we have many different priorities, which compete for our resources like time and money. We have family and friends, our work, our spirituality, our health, self-care and hobbies, to name a few.
There are no wrong priorities, but sometimes, we find ourselves out of balance if we devote more time and energy to just one of these priorities.
This can easily be seen with someone who is a work-a-holic, who spends all their time at the office, and at home replying to emails and calls. Work has taken over their life completely. They may neglect their spirituality, health or family as a consequence.
Another example of priorities being out of balance is the helicopter parent. The one who watches their child's every move, and wants to help them through every situation. This person has put their child's needs above their own to the extent that their whole life centers around the child.
In either case, the person has put other needs aside for either work or family. And while these are both admirable values, they only make up a part of who we are as human beings.
When you are out of balance this can lead to a great deal of stress and dissatisfaction. In some extreme cases, it can also lead to health problems if our stress is too great, or if we have neglected our nutrition or exercise in pursuit of something else.
Just like we need to eat a balanced diet, we also need to live a balanced life. This means, devoting equal time and resources to all areas of our lives. Easier said than done, I know!
I have been guilty of both of the above in my personal life: over working and over parenting.
In both cases, I felt like I was exhausted and my own needs had gone unmet. I needed fulfillment from something else that gave me meaning in life, such as other relationships or my spirituality.
If you neglect one area of your life too long, it leads first to a sense of longing. Then, it can lead to stress and resentment if left unchecked for too long. We need to have a balance in our lives.
According to Centerstone, here are some ways to get back into balance:
Find a support system
Take control and say no
Make a schedule for rest
Focus on today
All of these can help you cope with burnout from your life being out of balance. You can also learn to balance your priorities and make sure you are devoting some time each day or each week to all of them.
Make time for yourself, your interests and your health. This can go a long way towards getting your priorities back in balance.
Make sure that you are practicing self-care. This is also essential to your health and well-being. Balanced self-care is good for your physical and mental health. Some forms of self-care are:
Calling a friend
Spending time in nature
Seeing a therapist
Making time for spirituality
Reading a book
Drinking warm tea
Taking a hot bath
In addition to self-care, make sure that you are keeping yourself healthy with restful sleep, proper nutrition and drinking plenty of water. This is more important than usual when you are feeling stressed.
If you feel like your life has gone out of balance ask yourself, "what are my priorities?" Then, spend some time thinking if those priorities are playing out in your life. If you say you value family but all you do is work, then you are out of balance.
You can do a long journal session all about your priorities and values, and how your life is aligning to those.
When it comes to our kids, you may say you can't spend too much time with them, but it is good for kids to have some independence as well, so that they can get bored, and learn how to problem solve. We aren't meant to entertain them at all times, though it can be easy to fall into this trap.
To get back into balance, once you have found the areas that need attention, try spending an extra 5 minutes a day for that, and dial down the areas where you are spending more time. It could be a 5 minute meditation, or an hour once a week at a game night with friends. Whatever the case, make sure that you are doing something at least every week to get your neglected areas more attention.
Your life grows where your attention flows.
If there is something you have neglected, you could easily get burned out or feel like you are floundering, or getting resentful of others in your life. When this happens, you can use the tips above to get back on track.
For more, check out these other blog posts:
Priorities and Values: Why they matter with kids. - to define your priorities