What does Work Life Balance look like?

We’re all so busy… Our days are full and our weekends are fuller.  As we get stretched more and more by our families and our managers, by our responsibilities at work and at home, we start to think that we are failing if we can’t keep up. Something’s got to give…

We’ve all heard about ‘Work Life Balance’, but what is this elusive thing that other people seem to have that we don’t? What does it actually look like? I’ve gathered together a few ideas that are accessible to all of us, no matter how busy we are, that might bring back some measure of joy into our days and weeks.

Essentially, work life balance (WLB) is about allowing ourselves the time to choose an activity, or experience, or task (or absence of these things completely) without guilt, instead of continuing ever onwards with work-based jobs. It’s a well-planned diary where there are pockets of ‘me time’ that remind you what it is that you enjoy about being in the world. A regular exercise class, a gig at a local venue, a meal out with old friend or new friend. A book to pick up and read, just for pleasure, just for you. When was the last time you were able to properly do it for yourself? We know all these things are good for our soul, but we get swept away with the pace of work and the panic of our never-ending to-do list. So we need to plan it, and stick to it.

Once a week, make sure you take an evening off. Handbag Wednesday.  This is a real thing. Managers up and down the country are enforcing Handbag Wednesday as we speak, and if yours isn’t, maybe you could suggest it? On this day, you don’t take anything home except your handbag – and gentlemen, we know you have handbags too… So now you’ve found yourself with an evening off! You could go swimming after school with your children, or for a run. Pop into town and buy a new top. Plan a book club night or join WI. Learn a new craft by checking out some local classes. There is a whole world outside that is there to be experienced. But you have to plan it and plan it well otherwise you’ll ‘just leave it for this week’, then a fortnight has passed, and then you might not pick it up again. Get a calendar and write the dates on the calendar in PEN. Book the babysitter and pay the course costs up front.  Organise the book club AT YOUR HOUSE so you can’t cancel at the last minute with ‘I’m working tonight. Can we make it next week?’

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All of these things are important. Work out what is important to you and your family and begin to bring that balance back into your life. Sometimes, the smallest things can make a massive difference.

Be kind

Kindness comes from a place of contentment. Of love and of peace. The measure of our humanity is our ability to be kind to others and to ourselves. The latter is, I believe, the hardest thing to do, especially under times of stress and panic. So take a little time to be kind to yourself and nurture the small child inside. Have a bath, have an early night, read a book, drink cold water, get a haircut, do your nails. Whatever it takes to be kind, do it. You’re worth it.

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Find the thing that makes your heart beat

What’s your thing? ‘If I win the lottery, I will still…’ – what is it? To know this thing is to know yourself for it is truly what makes your heart beat every day.

If I win the lottery, I will still crochet. I’ve always been a knitter. Since being a little girl, I’ve always made my own clothes and accessories and knitting was always my bag. I love wool and the feel of different yarns running through my fingers. But since I taught myself to crochet last year, now it’s all I want to do. My knitting bag has now become my crochet bag. And my click clacking needles have now given way to a singular hook. I like it. I like how quickly it grows and how much I can create in one sitting.

So if I ever win the lottery, I will continue to crochet. I will continue on my quest to make a beautiful blanket for each of my children. It just might be slightly more expensive wool.

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Getting up in the morning

This much I know: I am not a morning person. I am (as my Nanna used to call me) a Night Owl. During the evening and early hours I am at my most productive/energetic/entertaining. This means alarm clocks and dawn starts are very difficult for me. Very difficult indeed. A 9am meeting takes days of planning and at least 3 alarms amidst fears that I will oversleep and miss the whole shebang (to this day I never have, but I’ve had a few near misses). I used to be terrified of a power cut in the night which would turn off my alarm clock. My mobile phone multi alarm system has been my morning lifeline for years now (though now I worry that the battery will go flat so my back up alarm is now my old electric one!).

So here are a few hints and tips that help me get out of bed in the morning.

  1. Get a cat. A cat will come and stand on your head at 7:30am everyday and paw at your eyes until you get out of bed to feed it. They do it in such a cute way that you can’t possibly resist them.
  2. Get a kid. Slightly longer term option, agreed, but helps you wake up REALLY early. Especially when the clocks go back AND THEY DON’T NOTICE.
  3. Get into morning tele. If you’ve already gone for point 2. above, then you are likely to be versed in the wonder of insomniac children’s television. If not, there are plenty of news channels to choose from to brighten your morning!
  4. Get a teasmaid. Wake up to a cup of tea already made for you! What’s not to love? If you, like me, can’t function without a cuppa, this might be a great halfway house to enable you to have your cuppa and drink it. Before having to actually get out of bed. These things should be compulsory, in my humble opinion.

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WAGOLL

So, in our daily life, what DOES a good one look like? What does it look like when things are going well? What does our life look like when things are on track? Actually, it might not look so different on a good day or on a bad day, it’s just a question of focus.

When you’re in a rut, think of 5 things that are good and constant and definitely true.

  1. I am worthy because my children are nice, and good people, and they (sometimes) make their beds without me reminding them to.
  2. I am decent because I am also nice, and good, and I hold down a job as well as managing to keep a roof over my head.
  3. I am respected and respectful because I remember my manners and treat others how I like to be treated.
  4. I am intelligent in my own way because I work hard at what I’m good at in order to excel at that task.
  5. I can make sweet peas come alive.

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New day today

Today is the best day to make a new start. Yesterday, I ate a little bit too much cheese and drank a little bit too much prosecco, but today I can make good choices about food, drink, work, exercise, words and thoughts.

The thoughts that I choose to acknowledge and the thoughts that I choose to dismiss are entirely up to me.

Today I am choosing good food and good thoughts. Today I am going to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m the youngest I will ever be and today I am amazing!

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The perfect cup of tea

Here at dizzie.net we’re all about the tea. I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. Don’t get me wrong – I love the smell. But for me, it’s got to be a big mug of tea. (Usually two, to be fair).

So what’s the recipe for the perfect cup of tea? Simple. Time. Cup of tea = ‘me time’. So whether you take it with 2 sugars, black, extra milky or ‘as it comes’, the most important ingredient in the perfect cup of tea is a little bit of time to sit down and enjoy it. Oh, and your favourite mug.

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Breathing into nowness

Today is all there is. Tomorrow doesn’t exist and yesterday is gone. All we have is now.

Nowness, or mindfulness, is the art of being in the moment, immersed completely in now. But before we can be present, we have to notice that we’re not, and this takes some practice.

What can I wear tomorrow?

What am I going to do about my broken hub-cap?

How am I going to make them like me more?

We drive ourselves mad. So stop. Notice the thoughts. And breathe. Long deep breaths. Count 3 in. Count 3 out. Repeat 5 times and concentrate only on your breathing. This is a calming technique which comes from yoga practice. When you have finished the cycle, notice your surroundings and move on. If the thought returns, notice it and let it go. It’s just a thought – it doesn’t exist.

  1. Stop
  2. Notice the thought
  3. Breathe 3 and 3 for 5
  4. Let it go

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It’s a dog’s life

I want a dog. I don’t want a dog. But I want a dog. I really want a dog. I just don’t want the actual dog and the dog poo. I guess that means I really shouldn’t get a dog.

But they’re so cute! With their little ears! And their waggy tails! Look at how cute they are!

But you have to walk them every day. Twice. And feed them. And take them to the toilet like toddlers. Why can’t they just be cute with their ears and make their own food?

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I suppose I could just get another cat…

What is mindfulness?

To put it simply, mindfulness is about being present in the moment. It is a technique which takes a lot of practice to become second nature, but once learned it can be applied to any aspect of your everyday life. It is a way of thinking and a way of living that can be transformative, and can literally change your way of looking at the world around you. As soon as you become present in the moment, all your worries and fears fade away and you are able to immerse yourself in the activity, feeling or experience.

When we put aside our worries we become momentarily freed from the anxiety that is causing that worry. It is in the future, and therefore does not exist. It is not tangible in the moment. So it can be acknowledged, and then put aside. In a similar way, we can deal with obsessive thoughts when we go over and over situations that have already taken place. These things are in the past, and therefore do not exist. We worked through it, and now we have moved on.

Sometimes future thinking has a place and a purpose – to help us make important decisions we need to apply ourselves in that future place. A new job, a new house, a new partner. But ruminating over possible outcomes of not finishing the laundry, or what to have for lunch on Sunday is not effective decision making, and these are things that can be put aside. When you notice that you are over-thinking or worrying about something, try and put the thought to one side and focus your attention on what is right in front of you. The television, the view, your children, a cup of tea. Whatever it is, let it be everything in that moment. Breathe deeply and calmly and be present. Your cup of tea – what does it smell like? What colour has it turned now you’ve added some milk? What patterns are reflected on the surface? Is there steam rising from the mug? Does the mug warm your hands as you pick it up? It’s just a cup of tea, but at that moment it is everything to you. It’s the nicest cup of tea you’ve ever had!.

This is ‘nowness’ and it can be learned. It’s the beginnings of meditation and so accessible that anyone can do it and be successful.

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It does take practice. Try it today – whilst making that well-earned cup of tea.  I promise you, it will taste amazing.