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Can you really balance your life? 3 keys.

When you look back on your life when you have retired, on the closing stretch or with your last breaths, will you ask what you have done with your time?

What will be the measure of this life?

Your net worth? The vehicles you drove? The number of good meals and drinks you enjoyed? Your total number of facebook friends? Your twitter followers? Every movie you watched? The TV series you followed? The value of your watches and rings? The clothes you wore? Whatever else you may have collected? All the material things you wanted and needed, finally bought and eventually threw away?

Chances are you will no longer find value in any of these. Your thoughts will turn to that which had deeper and more enduring meaning to you.

Ironically, throughout the greater part of our lives, our thought, energy and time are consumed with many of the items on the dubious list above. We do this at the cost of what we value most.

We recognize this late in the day, when we have worked long hours or spent too much time online, and the kids are asleep . . . or grown up. We see it at times of crisis, when our lives are out of balance and we have neglected our health, our beliefs or our relationships.

How do we make time for what really counts in our lives? Is it possible to live a balanced life?

Here are three keys to balancing your life.

1. Take time to reflect. If we don’t make time to consider our priorities, we drift away from them. The demands of work, our current preoccupations or the crisis of the moment distract us from committing time to the other important areas of our life. Reflecting allows you to check your compass and bearings and redirect your direction.

2. Balance your week. Look at how you allocate time for the important areas of your life. Throughout the week, I think about the most important areas of my life, including my family, work, friends, emotional wellbeing and physical health.

What challenges do you have in each area? How can you best use your time?

There are times in our life when free time is scarce. We may have to work overtime, study for exams or juggle childcare with housekeeping. At any time in our lives, we have to recognize where we have the freedom of choice. Are you choosing to spend time where it is most needed and valued?

We tend to put off ‘til the weekend important things we ultimately fail to do. This might include clearing the clutter, taking out the trash, balancing the budget or spending more time with the people you love.

3. Balance each day. When we’re busy, we may not take the time to exercise, get enough sleep or eat proper meals, but these are crucial to your wellbeing. By scheduling them into your day, you won’t neglect them. These are the habits of health.

Maintaining a healthy balance in life doesn’t come naturally. It is a dynamic process that requires the daily intention to give priority to what matters most. By staying on course, you’ll find greater satisfaction with your journey through life.

At the end of the day, we’ll judge ourselves by how we spent our time.

Cousins hiking in Banff - Davidicus Wong
Cousins hiking in Banff – Davidicus Wong
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Emotions stress management Uncategorized

Are you at risk for burnout? Recognizing & managing stress in your life.

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Stress is an inevitable and essential part of your life.

Without stress, you’d be bored.

Without the positive stress of a best friend, you wouldn’t try new things and you wouldn’t have as much fun. Without the encouraging stress of a supportive parent, you might not push yourself to your potential.

If you had no stress at all, you wouldn’t even get out of bed.

But like everything else that relates to health, you can have too much of a good thing.

Excessive stress causes distress – physical, emotional and behavioural.

Stress raises your heart rate and blood pressure. It increases the acid in your stomach. It causes insomnia, exhaustion and headaches.

It can impair your concentration and cause panic attacks. It can make you irritable, moody or emotionally disconnected.

Take a pulse check now. Are you suffering from some of these symptoms? What’s your stress level now?

When you start attending to your own stress level, you’ll note how it varies throughout each day and throughout the week. If you have a high stress job – such as a server in a busy restaurant, you’re likely more relaxed at home, when you’re out with friends and on your days off.

If you’re a busy parent with young kids, you’re break from stress might be when everyone else is asleep.

If you suffer from high levels of stress day in and day out from the moment you awaken until the moment you finally fall asleep, your stress may already be compromising your emotional and physical health.

We would all like an ideal job but that wouldn’t be one where you get paid to do nothing. When the challenge or demands placed on us are far below our capabilities, we’re bored. Ideally, we’d want the challenge of our work to be a close match to our abilities. We’ll feel appropriately challenged and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

We get into trouble when we don’t have the resources to meet the demands before us: a clerk with too much work to do without enough time or support, a single parent with sick or fighting kids, a nurse rushing to care for a ward of unstable patients, or a teacher with a class of out of control children.

When the demands of our life overwhelm us in the short term, we feel stressed and anxious. It’s just a bad day.

But if we face this imbalance day after day with no end in sight, we begin to feel helpless. If this continues, we’re at risk for burnout. The key symptoms of burnout are: emotional exhaustion, feeling alienated or cynical about our work, and impaired performance.

Doctors or nurses who are burnt out will be irritable with coworkers and patients. They may start treating patients impersonally before the quality of their care declines.

When we’re overwhelmed by our situation, we feel helplessness, and this leads to anxiety. When we feel we have no control over our situation, we may feel hopelessness, and this leads to burnout and depression.

One key to managing stress and avoiding burnout and depression is your locus of control. The key factor in the development of burnout is the feeling of a loss of control, but in spite of the demands of our work or our lives, we often have more control than we think. We must accept the things we cannot change and accept our responsibility to change what we can.

Any one of us can feel emotionally overwhelmed at times. The next time you blow up or someone in front of you does, consider the 80/20 rule. 20% of our reaction is related to the reality of the situation; 80% arises from what we bring from our past and how we conceptualize the present.

The key to managing acute stress is to seize the locus of control.

First, identify the sources of stress. Ask, “Am I reacting in proportion to this stress?” Recognize what you can change or control. It might be your attitude or perspective. Will this make a difference a year from now?

Accept what you cannot change; assume responsibility for what you can. Recognize your choices.

Next: Can we really achieve balance in life?