Three Practices to Restore Balance and Reduce Stress
Are you familiar with the saying, “Running around like a chicken with your head cut off”? Coming from a family of farmers on my mother’s side, I heard this phrase often. And, did you know farmers really do cut off the heads and the chickens will continue to run around headless? Yep, it’s the truth! As gruesome as it sounds, the analogy does depict the insanity I feel when I’m stressed out—feeling pulled in 100 different directions, trying to catch my breath while I rush around aimlessly to accomplish way too many task with limited hours
Finding balance and having less stress sure sounds good, doesn’t it? However, what does balance really mean? What does it look like and how do we gain and maintain balance despite our busy schedules?
I recently read a great book on this topic called Living Forward, by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt (LivingForwardBook.com—loved it!). In their book, they share simple steps to restore balance and design a life of significance, joy and satisfaction.
How about you? Do you relate to feeling like a chicken with your head cut off? Well if you do, I have a few antidotes from this book that can help make a difference in your life. These practices have been a blessing—helping me to restore my sanity and provide the clarity to truly focus on what matters to me. As a result, I am finding balance, peace and greater satisfaction in the midst of the busyness of life.
Here are the simple steps that can better your life:
1. Get clear on your priorities.
Begin by answering the following questions:
- What’s best for you?
- What matters the most to you?
- How do you want to be remembered?
These questions remind me that my time is precious and life is too short to aimlessly rush through it. Rather than running through each day just reacting and completely exhausted from overload, define your priorities so you can decide what’s worth doing and what is not. This has been particularly helpful for me to comfortably say “no” to things that only add stress to my life.
In the book, Harkavy and Hyatt challenge us to make a list of our priorities in order of importance. They refer to these areas as Life Accounts or where to invest time and energy that will make a significant difference in the quality of our lives and relationships?
To give you an idea of what this looks like, here are mine:
3. Todd (husband)
4. Sarah, Charley, Lily (children)
6. Extended Family
8. My Home
This exercise helped me realize how I was spending my time out of order. Putting them in the right order is essential to creating the life you want. It provides a filter to manage your life rather than allowing life to manage you.
2. Create your ideal schedule.
After you have created your list in order of your priorities, Harkavy and Hyatt ask you to think about:
- What would an ideal week look like for you if you aligned it with your priorities?
- How will you use your time to shape your life?
- Are you currently using your time doing those things that matter the most to you?
I have begun to block out time for exercise, work hours, family time, date nights and spending more time doing activities that nourish and refill me. I stop working at 5pm in order to spend more time with my family. To my surprise, I am more productive at my work, life feels more balanced and I am happier.
Once you identify what’s most important to you, sit down with a calendar and block out time for these things. This will help lower your anxiety by eliminating items that add stress. You will begin to understand that what doesn’t make the list is not an area of focus in your life at this time.
And, following this process will keep you intentionally committed to living your life on purpose.
3. Say “no” to what isn’t on your priority list.
What do you need to say “no” to so you make time for what’s important to you?
If we were to be honest, many of us live as if love means never having to say “no”.
For many reasons, “no” isn’t easy for most women to say. Maybe we don’t want to miss out or we’re afraid to disappoint someone. We may put others’ needs before our own or gain value from giving our time to worthy causes. However, we can’t say “yes” to everything. As difficult as it may be, when we don’t say “no”, we take time away from the best things. Don’t go through life on autopilot, live life saying “yes” to the best!
- Life is a gift so how do you want to be remembered?
- Where will you invest your time in order to make a difference?
Answering these questions can be powerful and life transforming. By clarifying priorities and aligning your life accordingly, you reap the benefits—your sanity will be restored and you’ll experience less stress and feel more energized. As you align your life with what matters the most, you can restore balance and design a life of significance, joy and satisfaction—one choice at a time.
Questions: Do you relate to feeling like a chicken with your head cut off? What do you find most stressful? How would life feel different if your life aligned with what matters the most to you?