~ 10 Minute Read
One of the biggest struggles I’ve dealt with in my time both as a school psychologist and micropreneur is how to effectively have a quality work-life balance. By my nature I’m an obsessive person and have never been one to handle work stress well.
This came to a head when customers of my grinders started receiving the wrong product from Amazon. Those who received a competitors grinder were not happy and that was understandable. The one star reviews started to pile up and I was worried that my brand image was going to take a serious hit.
The stress from this consumed me and in the end forced me to rethink how I handled the stress that came with being a micropreneur. Since then I’ve made it a priority to handle stress better and achieve a more sustainable work-life balance.
Through that process I’ve found several habits that have proved to be incredibly helpful, which has led to an increase in my work satisfaction and happiness in my personal life.
With Americans working more than any other industrialized nation (not something to be proud of), there has likely been few times in our history where our work-life balance has been more out of balance in favor of work. If you find yourself in this camp, then these five habits could help you to balance things out, allowing you to live a happier life while both at work and at home.
In no particular order, here are my five favorites:
Meditation is my go to habit to enhance your ability to effectively manage life stress. It truly has been a game changer for me. The beautiful thing is it only takes 10-20 minutes a day to have a profound impact on you mental health.
For those who are skeptical about meditation as a practice or think it is something only hippies do, consider that science is showing that meditation can promote physical changes in the brain and help you to increase your attention span. These changes promote relaxation and the ability to handle stressful situations without engaging the fight or flight response.
My experience has been that meditation allows me to live more in the present and be more mindful of my thoughts and actions. It also helps me to not overreact to the ups and downs of my business.
Meditation is like any other healthy habit (running, lifting, etc.) in that it gets easier with time, and you’ll find yourself desiring to meditate once you’ve established your practice. Start by doing 10 minutes and build up a minute or two a week. Try to meditate every day. Here is a good article describing how to meditate.
There are some obvious similarities between meditation and yoga. Both started as ancient Eastern spiritual practices that have garnered a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly in the West. Both promote mindfulness and inner peace. But there are some distinct differences between the two practices.
Yoga will help you not only with being mindful, but will also build functional strength that leads to better posture. For those of us who spend a lot of time at our desks this can lead to a serious quality of life improvement. Personally, I’ve always been a “slumper”, with my shoulders rounded forward when working at my desk. Yoga has made a noticeable difference in my sitting posture. I’ve also gotten the enhanced mindfulness from my yoga practice as well.
While there are many yoga studios that have popped up in neighborhoods all around the US of A you don’t necessarily need to leave your home to get in a good yoga session.
My wife and I utilize Yoga By Adriene regularly in our home. Adriene provides free yoga classes on Youtube and even offers a free monthly calendar so that you can follow a simple daily routine.
3. Know When To Step Away
Admittedly, I have a short attention span. After about 15 minutes of working I need to “zone out” for a few minutes to recharge my batteries, and then get back to it. What I’ve found is when I need this break I’ll often simply search the web seeing how my business is performing in the short-term without really getting anything done. That is the number one sign for me that it is time to step away from the computer and take a short break.
If I don’t take this break I can easily find myself spending an hour just mindlessly searching the web and not doing anything particularly useful. But when I do take a short break to “turn off” I’m able to come back to the work and have a more productive day overall.
The specific signs for when you need to step away from your work will be very individual. Try to be mindful of what unproductive habits you engage in when you feel mentally fried. Once you’re able to recognize these habits, then you’ll be able to know that it is time to step away from whatever you are doing for a short period of time. Once you’ve had a short break come back to what you were doing and get back to work feeling recharged and ready to dig in.
4. Eat Lunch
In the rush to look better to our employers and be more productive many of us skip lunch. In fact, only 20 percent of workers take a true lunch break in this country, and 39 percent eat lunch at their desk. And this isn’t a problem just with those of us with a regular 9 to 5, entrepreneurs are some of the biggest workaholics among us.
The truth is that this habit is not leading to any productivity gains. Actually, it’s killing your productivity. For those who are new to food, your brain kinda needs that stuff to work. Who knew!?
Well this is pretty simple, take a lunch break! Stepping out of your office to get a bite to eat and some fresh air will lead to greater work performance. If you have a boss that promotes this over working culture, show him or her the research on skipping lunch and how by taking a lunch you’ll be a more productive employee.
If they give you shit and altogether blow you off, I’d seriously consider looking for work elsewhere. Working in a toxic environment is worse than having no job at all when it comes to your mental health.
5. Handle Stress Like A Boss
One of the biggest misconceptions in our society is that all stress is inherently bad. I would argue that it is not stress itself, but it’s how we perceive stress that leads to emotional instability and health problems, and research backs up this theory. What researchers have found is that if you are mindful about your stress and view it as a challenge and a way to grow as a person it can enhance your performance and become a positive experience.
For those who handle stress positively, they see stress as a temporary event, as something that has a beginning and end. For those of us who handle stress poorly we see stress as something that will go on forever and we can’t see an end. This leads to a feeling of hopelessness, which in turn causes all sorts of problems.
If you want to see an example of someone who handles stress effectively, just turn on HGTV. There you will likely find an episode of Fixer Upper (since they have reruns of this show on 25 hours a day) featuring husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gains.
(If you want to see someone’s career go down the tubes Google Chris Gaines)
This couple manages a thriving business empire and have four kids together (with one on the way). They have a high stress life to say the least. Home remodel deadlines and consistently trying to live up to clients expectations is no easy task.
Chip in particular thrives in this high-stress environment, seemingly always having energy and ready for the next stressful situation to arise. He knows that stress is temporary and for him it is a challenge to improve his skills as a person and entrepreneur. Want to handle stress effectively? Be more like Chip.
As with many things the key to handling stress more effectively is mindfulness. Try to make a conscious effort of being aware of when you are stressed and what your response is to the stress. Remind yourself that the cause of the stress is temporary and will end.
From there think about ways in which you can embrace your stress, and what meaning you might be able to find from the situation. How will the stress help you grow as a person?
Understanding that your response to stress determines whether or not it has a positive or negative impact on your life is the first step in managing your stress in a healthy manner.
What strategies and habits have you developed that helped you with your work-life balance? Let me know below!
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