What is work-life balance? If it feels like a tall order, you’re not alone. With no recipe or road map to get there, it often feels intangible. So, what IS it?
It’s personal. It differs for each of us and starts with an invitation to tune into what truly nourishes you—as well as what causes stress. The first step is to become aware of what throws you off balance. To do so, slow down and truly listen—to your body and to your thoughts. Next, work on developing habits that bring you back to your natural balance—and true self—so no matter what challenges you are faced with, you have the ability to navigate them with your innate power and grace.
Cultivating work-life balance means different things to different people—and at different times in our lives. It’s less about work ethic, although that certainly plays a part. But we all have different jobs in life—and many of them aren’t defined by employment, such as motherhood, caring for family, and volunteer work. You may have just started a new career, or a second career—or perhaps you’re in partial or full retirement. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do.
Clearly, everyone’s work looks and feels different, especially these days, when so many work from home due to COVID-19 (and are lucky to have the option). Perhaps you've been furloughed or laid off permanently. Now work means finding new work, and that has its own brand of stress. Sometimes it seems like we could all use a PhD in juggling.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?
“Every morning I have to drag my butt out of bed, even after 8 hours of sleep.”
“I do Zoom yoga 4X a week and still don’t have energy to get through the day.”
“I wake up feeling great, then crash by 2:00, when I need a nap.”
As a former holistic health coach, my inquiring mind wants to know… What are you eating? Everything we put in our system—breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks—affects our energy and focus throughout the day. Often, we attribute fluctuations in mood or energy to things that have little to do with diet. While other things certainly play a role, what you eat can make or break your personal balancing act.
Holistic wellness embodies what nourishes you on all levels, from the food on your plate to the food of life—work, physical activity, relationships and spirituality. Which begs the question, “What’s eating you?” as well as “What are you eating?” I'll leave it up to you to explore the former. Let’s play with the latter...
To begin, be open to change. Change in routine scares people. How many folks do you know and love who have stayed in bad relationships or dead-end jobs because they fear change more than they embrace the freedom to grow that change would provide? This fear may evolve from changes we have no control over, like the seasons, weather, aging or illness—or a pandemic!
The other face of change is the power of choice. We can exercise our power of choice daily, making small changes that make a big difference. After all, life itself is just that: change. We are in a constant state of it, every moment of every day. Imbalance happens when we resist the natural ebb and flow of life. Balance happens when we embrace life’s infinite possibilities, mindfully, one step at a time.
We’ve established that work means different things to different people, especially these days. And, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you work hard at whatever it is that you do. But imagine what life would look like if you were just as diligent about what you eat as you are about your work. Imagine if, each morning, you awakened feeling fresh, energized and ready to kick it into high gear… and that energy lasted until you were ready to wind down. It's possible!
First, fall in love with healthy food. Maintaining a loving relationship with food is a lot like maintaining other healthy, loving relationships. First and foremost, it's important that you love and respect yourself. Then, be mindful that, just like relationships with people, over-loaded schedules have a way of pointing us toward ready-to-eat, overly processed convenience foods, which only minimally satisfy hunger, and don’t work to nurture or nourish you. And, like time with loved ones, it's important to keep it fresh—and to savor it. Added bonus: when you know that each bite is healthy, it’s a guilt-free love affair.
To begin your love affair with what you eat, acknowledge your body as your temple. The more love and respect you give yourself with food choices, the more your body will support you for the long haul. Eating is not just about putting yummy things in your mouth or feeding your cells a balanced variety of nutrients. Eating can be sacred, healing and transformational—if you want it to be, if you allow it to be, and if you remain open to the challenge.
For helpful tips on what to eat for work-life balance, stay tuned for Balancing Act: Part 2, right here in The Rootchi Blog.
Jocelyn Krasner is a copywriter, yoga teacher, and healthy food enthusiast who lives in Hoboken, NJ, where her personal balancing act is a continued work in progress.
(Footer photos, David Plakke)