Sunday, January 3, 2016

New You in the New Year! Top Eight Ways to Nourish Your Work / Life Balance

A version article was most recently published in "Fitness Trainer," and I am sharing it below!  I hope it provides you with some value information as you journey into the New Year!

By Kim Schwabenbauer, RD, LDN, CSSD

The thought of creating all-encompassing New Year’s resolutions can be overwhelming.  We all want to continue to evolve into the best possible versions of ourselves by removing “not so good for us” habits and replacing them with ones to enhance our work, life and health.  Instead of just throwing out the old “I’m going to eat better in the New Year,” why not really take the time to make it personal to you and dial it down to specific steps that will set you up for success when the New Year arrives.  Below are my top eight ways to nourish your work-life balance! 

1.       Get a routine physical. Many of us neglect this important health checkup that impacts both our work and our personal lives.  Starting the new year knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as other key nutritional variables, are within normal ranges can help prevent a whole host of other issues down the road.  Make the appointment and resolve to keep it for your future health. 
2.       Master your scheduling practices.  Plenty of us live and die by the schedule.  Those that seem to master it have less stress and worry because of the ability prepare in advance.  Whether it’s a trusty written planner or new productivity app, ask yourself what areas you aren’t managing well, and put procedures in place to address them.  When your child’s soccer schedule is up and the annual business meeting is scheduled, put them in right away and put a reminder a week out to prepare for both.   You’ll have more time to do the things you want to do, if you manage the things you have to do, well.

3.       Set realistic goals.  Many of us would welcome losing 20 pounds, saving 20k this year and finally working out six days per week.  However, some of these goals may not be realistic considering our lifestyle and other responsibilities in the short term.  Make sure the goals you set are achievable and set you up for smaller successes along the way vs. pipe dreams that only lead to frustration.  Make your goals specific actionable steps that have a time line for completion.  Rank them in order of priority to you and your work and personal life.  Every month, review your goal sheet.  If it’s not important to you anymore, take it off the list.  This can help you stay on course to keep redefining what’s important on your schedule and what should be removed.

4.       Just say no.  It’s tempting to say yes to everything because we all want to please others and do our part.  However, protecting your “me time" both on a work and personal level is your way to refresh your mind and body so that you CAN perform in both areas.  If you’re having trouble, pull out the master planning schedule and put your “me” time on there.  It could be a workout, a facial, or a massage.  Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about it if it’s helping you achieve your other goals of being productive in your everyday life.

5.       Commit to New Travel Routines to Help You Stay Healthy.  At home, it’s easier to be in our comfort zone and plan nutritious wholesome meals or include our daily workout.  When we travel, those habits often go by the wayside. Something as simple as a grocery store run to stock up on tuna packets, dried fruit, nuts, shelf stable chocolate milk, and other traveling staples could make the difference between eating out for three days straight vs. feeling you have control over your eating choices. 

6.       Learn something new.  Learning a new skill or delving into a new area will enhance what you’re currently doing and improve your future success.  Adding a new dimension to your life is a good way to enhance your work-life balance.  Have you been meaning to get that additional certification, go back to school, and learn how to coach your child’s team?  Think about what areas would really improve your current work or personal life and commit to learning a new skill. 

7.       Rethink your responsibilities.  There are responsibilities that we have to do, and there are those we don’t.   If cleaning your house and doing all the grocery shopping is just too much during certain times of the year, hire out or get a delivery service.  Time is money and time saved is sanity saved.  If you need help, don’t be afraid to get it.   You may just require outside assistance for a short stressful period that will allow you to focus on the work or life priorities that are truly important. 

8.       Get enough sleep.  This should actually be closer to the first thing on the list because so few people are doing it and yet it can be a game-changer in all areas of life.  Lack of sleep increases stress, feelings of helplessness, depression and undermines our immune system.  If you want to tackle the day feeling positive and ready to handle life’s challenges, get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.  If you get 8 to 9, you’ll feel like you are simply indestructible, which carries over to both work life and personal life.  

Remember, creating better work-life balance is a work in progress.  It may seem tempting to take it all on at once with your New Year’s Resolutions, but by picking a few helpful strategies, you can continue to improve this process as your family, interests and work life change.  Keep examining your priorities and adjusting the targets as necessary to have a healthier, happier you in the New Year!

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