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Work is a big part of our lives. We basically spend most of our time at our jobs. Some of us get lost into working all the time and forget about little things in life that matter as much as going to work does. But why do we get lost and we fail to create a work-life balance?
Causes are multiple: stress, exhaustion, fulfillment, lack of time, etc. But the root cause is always within us. No matter the circumstances, our response to those circumstances determine the quality of our lives.
Maybe you have a job that you love but you neglect your personal life, or maybe your job is stressful and unsatisfying, or maybe you just got used to a rhythm where work takes 90% of your time, energy and attention.
As I was saying, the circumstance is less important, what matters is our way of coping. We can’t stop going to work, and we can’t change the mentality of our employers.
So we go to the the first aid kit: ourselves.
How can we help ourselves? The best way I know is practicing mindfulness and that includes practicing meditation.
I often found myself in bad moods because of stressful situations at work and that affects the quality of my life. I found myself snapping at people and being mean just because I was tired.
It doesn’t have to be so.
Then I sat with myself and mindfully thought about the bad habits I had created. I realized that I had stopped meditating because I felt like I had no time or energy. It was the biggest mistake. I knew that only meditation could help me cope with the stress at work and implicitly with the overall quality of my life.
How to use mindfulness for better work-life balance?
Meditation – The way to mindfulness
Most people are reluctant when they hear about meditation. Mindfulness is even more abstract for some. The best way to learn mindfulness is to practice meditation. I always remind people that meditation is accessible to everyone.
One thing at a time
Mindfulness is about being aware and taking things step by step. While at work, learn to better manage your top priorities. If you think about the million things you have to do you will start to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Instead, think what the first main tasks are and start doing them one by one. While working on a task, focus on that task only, be present in the moment. Don’t let anything distract you. If your mind starts wandering, notice the distractions and slowly let go of them.
Be present in the moment
After work hours allow yourself to transition to your life outside work. After 8h of work it’s hard to let go and move on with your day focusing on other things. But this is key for better work-life balance. If you find it too hard to detach from work-related issues, try to meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
Don’t take things personally
Our jobs can be stressful due to various factors. We often deal with unpleasant situations: our bosses are too demanding, our colleagues might be mean; we are told that we did not do a good job. That is harsh! But there is a solution: don’t take things personally! Don Miguel Ruiz beautifully put it: “People don’t do or say things because of you, they do it because of them.” Take a deep breath and remind yourself that people react in co-relation with their perspective and not yours.
Speaking about breathing, when you feel like you can’t focus, or you become stressed and overwhelmed try a simple breathing exercise. You can do it at work in 30 seconds: breath slowly through your nose to the count of 3, hold your breath to the count of 3, exhale slowly to the count of 5. This exercise will calm your senses and you can practice it in stressful situations. Better work-life balance demands less stress.
Let go of distractions
If you are always distracted by stressful thoughts, your life will become a burden. Most jobs are stressful, and it does not take much to get distracted by all these thoughts: I will not finish this task, I have to work during weekend, my boss will yell at me. Worrying about things that might happen will add to the amount of the stress you’re dealing with already. Then you become this wreck with no work-life balance. So why not just do your thing and let go? Easier said than done but just try it. After all, what can happen if you just let all those thoughts go?
It may seem impossible to have a good work-life balance, but mindfulness is the greatest tool to improve our lives. My last advice is to start guided meditation; it will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life.