Recently we were shopping for school supplies with my fifteen-year-old and talking about whether he’ll be able to work as a lifeguard all year, what sports he’ll participate in this fall and if he wants to continue playing in the high school jazz band. I could feel my chest start to tighten as we envisioned the very full year ahead of us, and we all paused in the school supply aisle and took a deep breath.
Growing up with a parent who suffered from clinical depression and navigating a heaping dose of dysfunction, stress, anxiety, and “not feeling enough” the first thirty years of my life have left me highly motivated to want to feel good.
The primary drive for the work I do now — helping people find their center and enhance balance and flow in everyday life — is that I’ve experienced what it feels like to live with a sense of unease and to always look outside myself for happiness and self-worth. But when I finally learned how to find my “home base,” through practicing the art and science of self-care and tapping into the deep well of peace that exists within all of us, I knew that this was where I wanted to spend as much time as possible.
Finding balance is not about attaining a state of perfection or having it all together. And it’s not about having equal time for work/school and play. Balance is about staying true to what’s most important to you at your current life stage and feeling a sense of flow, harmony, and resiliency as you move through life.
Preparing a sophomore for high school is quite different from getting him ready for second grade. Still, as our family looks ahead to a very full fall, we’re returning again to the five guiding life-balance principles I have been practicing, writing about, and teaching for more than fifteen years, which have made a huge impact on our family’s ability to find peace and flow in everyday life.
Five Ways to Support Balance & Flow this School Year:
- Understand the concept of managing energy (vs. time), and choose to do less. Our energy is precious; use it wisely. In a world where we’re constantly doing too much, doing less can not only be our salvation but can greatly enhance our ability to be creative and focused and to feel happier and more alive. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
- Embrace self-care — it’s a game changer. Self-care isn’t about adding something to your to-do list; it’s about cultivating a kinder, gentler way of being with yourself. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self-care is key to balanced living and as essential as oxygen. Place a hand over your chest, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask, “What do I most need right now?” Believe you’re worthy of feeling good and of caring for yourself.
- Be here now. Stress, anxiety, and fear are brought on when we live in the future or dwell on the past. Breathing, embracing mindfulness, and learning how to become more present in everyday experiences — washing dishes, helping kids with homework, making a phone call — not only enhances our sense of joy and connection with ourselves and others but teaches us to access our innate resiliency and well-being.
- Ask for and receive help. Having a support system we can tap — friends, mentors, parenting coaches, support groups, neighbors — has a profound effect on our emotional and mental health and our ability to weather crises. Most of us have had to rewire our brains to learn this concept, but leaning on others — which requires vulnerability and letting go — can make all the difference in how we experience our life journey.
- Let go and practice “good is good enough.” Too many of us are trying to hold it together, to control everything and everyone around us, to adhere to unrealistic, perfectionistic standards, and to do so with a tea set balanced on our heads. Research shows we’re happiest when we have fewer choices, when we embrace simplicity, and when we put people first and things second. Just let go.
Today, as a mother, wife, community leader, entrepreneur, and business owner, I have my good days and my bad days, just like everyone else. But most of the time, I say no to requests for my time a lot more than I say yes. I am kind to myself, I spend a lot of time unplugged in nature (the best antidepressant), I make time with friends a priority, I meditate in the morning, I ask for help a lot, and every morning I reflect on “How can I do less today?” I’m not trying to become a better person or Renée version 2.0. I do these things because I want to live a life of joy and connection and to remember that as great as it feels to get stuff done, my real purpose for being here is to give and receive love.
3 WAYS I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU THIS FALL:
- Attend one of my self-renewal retreats and receive high-level support, mentoring and explore new ways of being. P.S. My Sept. 29-Oct. 1 Esalen retreat has just 5 spots left and my Oct. 27-29 Kripalu retreat has just 20 spots left (lodging is almost sold out at both venues).
- Schedule me to speak in 2018 to your organization, company or team on work-life effectiveness, stress management, mindfulness & resiliency. Learn more.
- Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to transition to a new career field, empower women and learn the art of self-care. Our online training is $100 off through Sept. 30 and includes private coaching with me!
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.