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I want to start by doing a disclaimer. I do not agree with the concept of work-life balance, mainly because it creates a mental division between what’s work and what’s life. We spend most of our daily hours getting work done. It’s a big part of our lives, and, as so, work should be integrated within our search for balance.
I learned the hard way about the importance of having a sound mind, body, and soul balance. Back in 2015, I got a burnout that threw me into a year-long depression. And, by the end of 2019, I found myself into another. During those periods, I figure that it was very tough to get a clear view of how we’re doing mentally without making a conscious effort to look within ourselves.
This blog post shares some of the things I learned along the way, some tips that worked for me and others that I’m still trying to bring into my daily life. After all, life’s a marathon and not a sprint.
Let’s start with the bad stuff, which are the things I now realize got me burned out.
Not breathing well
You may love what you’re doing, but spending all day and night thinking about it, searching for solutions and trying new things can be too much for your mind.
Creating unrealistic goals
Everybody wants to launch websites as quickly as possible or add feature x or y because that’s what will make a difference. Worse of it all is setting a due date without thinking it through and then having to push beyond your limits to achieve it.
Not sharing how you are doing
Nobody likes to feel like a failure or weak, so people tend to clock their emotions from the ones they love to keep that strong, confident look. The trouble is that no feeling can be bottled up for long, it’ll start to leak and damage your relationships.
Not having a backup plan or any plan at all
Some people like riding the wave or going with the flow. But, in reality, that’s a recipe for disaster. Things happen, things break, things change the last minute. If you don’t have a clear outlook of where you want to go, you may start crashing.
Following others without questioning them
Don’t be a robot or a mindless worker that does everything the boss or superior officer tells you to do. Nobody knows any absolute truth, and, more often than not, the person asking for things knows a lot less about them than you.
Building up emotions without releasing them
Frustration, anger, feeling worthless, failure, panic, or confusion. All feelings, positive or negative, will build-up to the point of no return, and then burst out at the same time, getting a confused look from those around you.
Stop working on your self-growth
Human beings are one of the most flexible creatures on this planet. We need change to learn new stuff, push our limits (in a positive way), and feel alive. If you don’t seek self-growth, you’ll eventually start to feel purposeless.
Not knowing when to stop
It’s been three sleepless nights and days, and you’re still trying to find a solution for a problem. Your body is tired, your mind is struggling along, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But, you keep pushing on.
Stop listening to your own body
Our body is a wonderful machine full of different systems. It has evolved to show many different subtle signs of how it is feeling. It tells you when your eyes are tired, when the head is hurting, or when you feel sluggish and don’t have enough strength to get out of bed.
Pushing yourself beyond realistic limits
Healthily pushing yourself is one of the best ways to grow, but if you do it in a toxic way that can ruin you. If you push yourself too much, you’ll start to hate the reason you’re pushing yourself. If you’re trying to learn a new technique, language, software, or anything else mind that, if you go beyond your limits, it’ll feel like a chore.
Ufff, that’s some nostalgia-inducing list. It’s great to reflect upon the things that went wrong and being mindful of them. So, without further ado, the list of things that now help me have a self-conscious balance in my life is the following.
Purposely stop doing something to let your mind breath
Stop. Just stop. Close everything, ctrl+z everything, and just breathe in and breathe out. Get up, take a walk, drink some water, play some games, and put on your favorite song. The important thing is to clear your mind of everything you were doing. I prefer active meditation, but any reflection does wonders for achieving inner balance.
Why am I doing this? Is this the best cleanest way? Is there something I’m not taking into account? Question things up. If something doesn’t feel right, it most probably isn’t.
Practice radical transparency
Share what you’re feeling with the people around you, your loved ones, your co-workers, your pets. Externalize feelings so that you can get a different perspective of the things that are bothering you. Don’t let anything bottled up to prevent a burst of emotion in critical times.
Have plans and stick to them
If you made a conscious decision about something, go through with it until it is completed. Don’t pile up more things upon what you’ve already planned. Plan more instead, and split the bigger into smaller ones.
Question stuff that bothers you
Instead of ruminating alone, ask directly. Don’t let anything that bothers you go unchecked or unresolved. It’ll only get worse if you do. Be transparent and truthful in your questions. I guarantee you that the other person will feel that you’re genuinely trying to figure things out.
Express yourself without limits, find avenues for that
If you only do more of the same thing, your creative juices will get drained. Try and find things that challenge you and enable you to express how you’re feeling. Like playing a musical instrument, singing along a song, drawing something, or even making wild plans about the next big app. There are no limits to what you can do. The important thing is to put your feelings out there.
Take care of you, take long baths, go out, do a marathon of a series, do whatever feels good, and be more connected to yourself. You’re an individual human being of unlimited potential. Never forget that by locking yourself in a robotic routine of the same old same. Life’s fun, it shouldn’t be torture.
Reflect on what’s going wrong
Reliving memories and experiences does wonders for your mental health if you go into it with a constructive mindset, instead of feeling the victim. Be conscious in your self-trips, try and see different perspectives, and take actions on what you figure out.
Be conscious of your own body
Your body is the biggest teller that something is wrong if you gain weight, if your skin gets rashes or your eyes are dark and bloody, or if there’s a nagging headache that doesn’t seem to go away. Your body tries hard to alert you to a deeper problem, so be conscious of it, live a healthy lifestyle, and your mind will feel fresh and energized.
Mind your limits
Nobody is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses and limitations, so it’s good to push yourself, but don’t overdo it because you may have a ‘superhuman syndrome’ (yes, it’s a real thing).
Try to practice mindfulness, looking without barriers to who you are in the present and who you aspire to be in the future. Then, and only then, you can start to grow your limits healthily and more productively consciously.
That’s it, and I sincerely hope you can take away something useful from this post and apply it to your daily life. It’s not easy, but with an open and healthy mind, we can achieve anything in life.