I didn't choose a "word" for 2016, or 2015 or 2014 for that matter. I've never chosen a word to represent my year, to help me focus on what I want out of that year because I think that over the course of 12 months what I want, what I need and how I get there can change drastically. With that said, if I were to pick a word to live by in 2016, it would be balance.
I think that's probably pretty obvious based on this blog in it's entirety.
I decided to take some time, okay, a lot of time, to come up with ways I want to stay balanced this year. Things that I think can help me keep balance between work and my personal life, my relationships with family and friends and my relationship with myself. I took the time to think about all the things I have done in my life that have made me feel better about myself, more at ease and more at peace.
Here is a list of 16 things you should try in 2016 to find balance in your life:
There is no reason to take on everything. You don't have to cook all the meals or do all the dishes at home and you don't have to complete every school or work project on your own. You are in charge of your own life, your own calendar and your own to-do list. Choose to pass some things off and trust that others can complete the things that you simply do not have time for.
We have all been given so much in this life and we are all very blessed, in 2016 take some time to give back. Volunteering brings people so much joy and fulfillment and if that doesn't help you feel balanced and good about the direction of your life, I don't know what will.
- Block time on your calendar
If you're like me and work from home or even in an office environment you likely have lots of meetings every day. I have days of the week where I'm in meetings from 9am to 4pm and what that really means is that I don't actually have any time to get my work done. So, I block time on my calendar in advance so meetings don't get booked. I block two hours here, an hour there, a half hour in between. Add a "block" to your calendar and take some time to work so you can leave feeling accomplished at the end of the day.
Really, turn off the devices. Turn off your phone, iPad, laptop, TV, etc. and just disconnect for an hour every once in a while. Take a bath or read a book, just disconnect.
- Set time aside for people you don't see often enough
For me, this is friends. I see my family and Justin often, heck I even see Justin's family often, but I don't make nearly enough time for my friendships. Not seeing my friends often enough makes me feel like I'm neglecting those friendships and that's something I never want to do. Seeing people you don't see often enough also leaves you feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on new challenges.
- Reflect on the past month
Each month take a bit of time to look back at the 30 days that just passed. What went well? What new blessings were brought into your life? What challenges did you face and are there things that weren't so great that you can work to improve in the following month? Take a few minutes to recognize how the month went and how you can improve upon it moving forward.
- Be creative
Find some way to express your creativity. Maybe that's painting pottery at a local shop, maybe it's drawing or coloring in those new fancy adult coloring books. Maybe you express your creativity through writing like I do. Whatever it is, find some time to be creative, it's an outlet for stress and an endorphin booster (I think, don't quote me on that one ;)).
Get a massage or schedule a manicure or pedicure. Spend some time pampering yourself or taking time to read by yourself with no interruptions. Whatever it is that relaxes you, make sure you take the time to do those things. If it has to do with pampering, I find that a pedicure or massage quarterly makes all the difference in my mental well being.
- Set priorities
This seems so obvious, but so often we set everything in our life at the same level of importance and it's just not. Whether laundry is done today or this weekend is not nearly as important as spending time with your loved ones. Making sure a healthy meal is cooked every.single.night may not be your priority but rather making sure all the kids get to their various activities with some sort of food in their stomachs is. Figure out what needs to go at the top of your to-do list and those things that get pushed to the bottom over and over again, don't feel bad about them.
- Listen to your body
This is a big one for me. I am a big proponent of not depriving yourself when it comes to food and listening to my body has been key for this. Sometimes I really just need to eat some ice cream, and I don't care whether or not I'm PMSing, sometimes I just need ice cream. So I eat ice cream. Listen to what your body wants and needs, it may be ice cream, it may be a good run, it may need an extra 2 hours of sleep on a Saturday morning. Listen to your body and give in to it's cravings, usually it's telling you something you already know but aren't giving into.
- Plan ahead
I like to have a plan for everything but the main piece of my daily life that I plan for regularly is my cooking for the week. Every week I sit down and I pick out 3 recipes and I write a grocery list and then that's what I buy and what I cook for the week. This helps me stay focused, on budget and eating healthy.
- 10 Mindful Minutes
I've mentioned this before and I'll mention it again, take 10 mindful minutes every day to shut out the rest of the world. I take my 10 minute in the shower when no one is bothering me, I have my music on and I'm not thinking about anything that has to get done right that second.
- Break the routine
What I mean is, get out and do something different. I know this sounds counter-intuitive to finding balance, but balance is only a good thing if you're not also stuck in a rut. Go on a date night, take a random Wednesday off work, send the kids to Grandma's for a night, find something in your routine that you can shake up a bit here and there. No one wants to get bored!
- Drink enough water
It's been proven time and again that drinking enough water is massively beneficial to your well being. I feel 100 times better when I'm drinking 70+ ounces of water a day. Make a conscious effort to have a water bottle with you and hydrate yourself enough to feel good, not get dehydrated and even lose the bloating your body is showing due to water weight.
- Reconnect with your religion
Maybe this is making a goal to spend 15 minutes a night reading the Bible. Maybe this is making a goal to go to church more than one Sunday a month. If religion is an important part of your life, making sure you are including it in your schedule can be wildly beneficial to your sense of balance.
- And finally; simplify and minimize
Remove unnecessary tasks, to-do list items, and chores from your list. Get rid of the food in your pantry that is expired. Donate the clothes and shoes you haven't worn in 3 years. Clean out the clutter in your life to make room for all the great experiences that are ahead in 2016.
2016 is going to be a year for mindfulness and balance for so many people. A year where people strive to find a schedule and routine that works for them, completes them, makes them happier than they've ever been. Use some, all or none of my tips above but find a bit of balance in your life in 2016.
What are some things you do to stay balanced? Do you take fitness classes to release stress or just to keep a regular fitness routine? Maybe you just wing it and you don't focus on finding balance at all, you just try to recognize when you've reached your limit so you can say "no" to additional requests coming your way.