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Putting Balance Into Your Life

Losing it?
If you can’t remember when you did something just for yourself, then it’s time to re-balance your lifestyle. Your health depends on it.

Achieving the right balance is different for everyone and depends on your energy level, interests, work demands, and personal support. Whether you choose to work inside or outside the home, work demands can seem overwhelming and it is easy to forget the toll that busy lifestyles can have. Occupational therapists work with people to acquire skills or make changes to establish a balance of work, leisure, activities of daily living and rest.

If you are feeling stressed, you are not alone!
The percentage of Canadians feeling stressed as they try to juggle work and personal responsibilities has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

Caregiving for elderly parents and children, corporate downsizing, greater emphasis on workplace productivity and increased technology, have resulted in greater stress and consequently health-related problems.

Try these occupational therapy strategies to find the right balance for you!

1. Evaluate how much time you spend in each role.
Keep track of your daily activities on a calendar for a week to identify how much time you spend on work, self-care, leisure, and where you might be able to make realistic changes to achieve greater balance among these.

2. The more hectic your lifestyle, the more important it is that you plan your time wisely.
Take time each week to think about the week ahead. Draw up a list of the things you need to get done and highlight the most important activities. Cross off the tasks that you do accomplish and focus on what you got done, not on what you didn’t do.

3. For your mental health, make sure you do what’s meaningful to you.
Consider your physical, social, spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs and ensure your daily activities fulfill these. Each day, write down at least one activity that you would most like to accomplish for yourself and make this a priority. The other less important activities can be postponed or eliminated.

4. Be realistic in setting your goals.
What do you need to do to achieve these? Make more time for yourself? Hire help? Delegate tasks? Build a support system of colleagues, friends, and/or partner, and help each other to live the lives you truly desire.

5. Make your weekends work for you!
Studies show that many of us spend over 12 hours each weekend doing household chores and errands. Spread your activities out over the week. Grocery shopping during non-peak hours is not only faster than on weekends, but also less stressful. Cutting the lawn during the week leaves your Saturday morning free for a game of tennis or golf.

6. Take a look at your values.
What is really important in your life? Build in the time for what is most important to you rather than acting on what you “should” do. Most of all, take time for yourself to refresh and recharge your batteries or you won’t be of help to anyone else!

Source: Workplace Today. (1999). Canadians feel stressed in balancing home and work lives. September, p. 6.

Thank you to Occupational Therapist Ann Moore, from Dartmouth Mental Health Services, Nova Scotia Hospital, Dartmouth, N.S. for her valuable contribution.

Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something you have never seen before.
Alexander Graham Bell
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