The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been around for a long time now. The implication seems to be that they should weigh equally in some version of the scales of justice. Yet if you step back and reflect on it, it is obvious that life is the whole story, and work is a part of it – a balanced life is what we’re really talking about. If your life is primarily about your work, it’s out of balance!
If you look at it in this more holistic way, then you realise that we need a mixture of work/life ingredients, for our lives to be fulfilling, we may get some of it from work and some of it from other aspects of our lives. The important piece is that we look after our ecology. Just as the earth needs us to help balance its ecology, so we need to balance our own. Ecology means ‘the balance in the system’ and without balance we feel out of sorts, we get sick, we feel stressed. So if we can sort the balance in our lives, life and work funnily enough starts to just feel better! So what are the ingredients we need to get balance in our lives? Here’s a selection of the things that we think make the perfect recipe for a balanced, happy life. As with all recipes you’ll need to tweak it to suit your tastes, a little dash more of this, a touch less of that until it fits you just right!
- The bare necessities
We all need a roof over our head somewhere to call home. We need sustenance, food and drink, clothes on our backs and enough money to provide the essentials of life for ourselves. For most of us this means that we need to work, to earn an income to pay for these things. Without these bare necessities, life constantly feels like a struggle for survival.
- Relating to others
We are designed to be social animals and we thrive on relationships with others. This can be at work and at home, with colleagues, friends and family. Isolating ourselves from any of these social groups of relationship deprives us of something that is supposed to be part of our lives, a fundamental of life. Research shows that those who have more thriving and active social networks tend to have a more positive outlook on life and.. Live longer! Have you let your friends/family relationships slip because you’ve just not enough time? Maybe its time to get back in touch with that old friend and plan a time to reconnect.
- Mental stimulus
If we don’t use our minds enough, the brain loses its plasticity. Plasticity is the brains ability to create new neural pathways, in simple terms how we learn and retain information. We are designed to be learning creatures, and we love to be creative and problem-solve, so we need mental stimulus. Work may provide some of this, but we need life to create stimulus too! We need big conversations with friends, challenging debates that help us to shape our views of the world, to learn something new or just find out more about something that fascinates us – Where do you get your mental stimulus in life?
- Being active physically
Our bodies are made to move. If we lead a mostly sedentary life, we become more prone to illness and disease. Most of us no longer have a physically active component in our work, we’re mostly sat at our desks in front of our computers, so we need to ensure we do something active outside of work. This doesn’t mean we all have to go to the gym three times a week and life weights or do a zumba class, it could be: walking, swimming, cycling, gardening, getting out into nature, all get our body moving again – What do you do to keep your body active?
- Feeling fulfilled
We all thrive on feeling we’ve done something worthwhile. This may be through your work, but it may be that you need other elements: pursuing a hobby; helping out as a volunteer; making your home and garden beautiful; helping your children to learn and grow; working for the environment; working with animals. Without purpose, life just doesn’t feel quite right, so what are you doing that helps fulfils you?
- Enjoying yourself
Last but not least, we are supposed to enjoy our lives. If it’s not fun, what are we doing? We could die tomorrow! Anything that brings the fun in is GOOD in our books. Activities that make us laugh, relax us, bring us pleasure, are all essential for a balanced life. They help us to keep perspective and research shows that those that laugh more and have more fun tend to live longer and healthier lives – So what do you do that enables you to enjoy life more?
Now all these elements may overlap and some months you’ll need more of one and less of another but it’s essential that they are all in there. Work may provide you with some of the ingredients you need to make your life feel good, but it will never be enough on its own. It’ll lack that certain something, the spice of life that makes the adventure called life so interesting!
The recipe for a good life is an individual one, there is no one ‘catch all’ recipe, and you will need to perfect it for yourselves. You can tell whether the recipe is right or not by how your life feels: a balanced life feels great! You have an inner resilience and capacity to deal with almost anything life can throw at you when your life is in balance. And when it is out of balance, you can feel it; your fuel tank always seems to be running out of juice.
So check in with yourself today – what else do you need to bring the balance back into your life? What do you need a little more or a little less of? Get the ecology of life right, and that’s where the magic begins!
We hope this has been a useful blog for you! We write these blogs to hopefully give some insights into life and work and some practical things to do to make life and work that bit better, that’s what we’re in business for.
We think it’s important to get these messages out there to the wider world so many people are out of balance right now, so if you found it useful please DO share it, using the buttons below.
All our love,
Di and Jo xxx