Last night we ran a themed networking webinar: Work – Life – Connect focusing on, what I believe, is a huge need for balance and connection right now. We are still faced with constant shifts and change and continually emerging and adapting both to restrictions lifting or being imposed. All of this leaves us feeling unbalanced and disconnected in various ways.
We talked about a number of issues from the stress of working several jobs and roles to make ends meet to feeling exhausted from restrictions lifting and trying to find better balance within work.
Let’s look at reasons to create more balance and connection and how to do this:
LESS STRESS – we often feel we have no choice when it comes to good balance in our lives. We tell ourselves we “have to” do this or that there is no time. But that isn’t really true. Balance is ultimately created through our choices. So when we agree to take on more work than we have capacity for or not delegating enough, we simply create more stress for ourselves. So…
- say “no” to anything that isn’t a priority
- delegate as much as you can
- choose to do things that are priority (that includes your own wellbeing) and let go of the rest
BETTER MENTAL HEALTH – when you are in balance you are so much more able to deal with any negative emotions or thoughts or with negativity coming in or around you. The human brain isn’t meant to be stressed out and under pressure all the time. Creating breathing space to think is within our control and is one of the biggest tools we have to guard mental health. There are five basic things we should be doing every single day for strong mental health, one of which is movement and connecting with the breath. Doing so creates an instant calmer for the nervous system and gives our brain space to process change and emotion and create better responses.
BETTER PHYSICAL HEALTH – When you prioritise balance and mental health you are likely to be making better choices about the food you eat and the amount of sleep and movement you are getting each day. Body and mind are connected. If you are working long hours, hunched over a laptop and unwind in the evening by a couple of glasses of something and the sofa, you’ll be stressed and exhausted. Moving more and spending time outdoors generates endorphins, energy and optimism.
PRODUCTIVITY – it’s never how much you are working but so much more about how you are working. The biggest barrier to working productively is distraction and many of us are massively distracted most of the time. That in itself is an imbalance. Create better boundaries around your use of social media, consumption of news and the constant alerts of emails, instant messaging and online meetings and watch your productivity soar. Have some periods of deep work in your week for things that need brain focus and energy. Guard sleep and rest.
BOOST OPTIMISM – Balance and connection are all about feeling good about yourself and connecting well with others. One of the very best things you can do to boost optimism and strengthen balance and connection is to keep a gratitude journal and write in it every single day. This helps you to actively notice what is positive in your life – remember the brain is naturally drawn to the negative for evolutionary and protective reasons. By practising gratitude your rewire that and start to notice the positive.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work for good. Can it also change it for the better? Consultant Patty McCord reviews four key insights employers and employees alike gleaned from their shift to working from home — and shares how companies can use what they learned in lockdown to creatively and innovatively rethink how we do business.
YOU’LL BE MORE PRESENT – We struggle with being present. Our minds can feel cluttered, like they are always “on” and we can spend a lot of energy worrying or senselessly checking emails or scrolling through our phones. Our brains can be trained to be more present and calm through practising mindfulness and bring ourselves back to this moment. When we do this regularly we are:
- more attuned to people’s emotions and feelings (including our own)
- better at responding to people intuitively thereby creating much stronger relationships
- aware of the good around us (our brains are hard-wired to seek out the negative as a self-protection mechanism)
BETTER RELATIONSHIPS – we crave and need connection yet are finding it even harder at times to bring this more into our lives. The pandemic has taught us that deep human connection is vital to us but we now feel exhausted simply through meeting with friends. Inviting more balance into our lives enables us to be more present with others and perhaps too, to choose who we want to spend time with as well as how we spend that time. Think about who you’d like to connect with more and gently schedule a little time to do that and to enjoy that time.
CREATIVE THINKING – our brains need space to think yet we constantly bombarding them with stimulus from the moment we wake up in the morning to when our heads drop onto our pillows at night! When you are stressed, overwhelmed or anxious you have zero capacity to think creatively and clearly. Make space by giving yourself breaks, slower and more intentional starts to your day and regular focus on breath and mindfulness.