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Work, Life, Balance and Listening to yourself

Work life balance is a uniquely human concern. It’s not something that animals, living in tune with themselves and their environment ever face. An obvious statement of course – but it’s worth considering that the reason balances can be of concern is that as humans we have the ability to override our natural instincts and feelings, rather than respond to them as they arise. It’s our choice, and choice is part of what makes us human.

We can work on when tired, we can force ourselves to do what we’ve decided it is necessary to do. We can juggle the balance of work, family and personal time according to our own reasoning. We can even push ourselves to the limits, and perhaps without this humanity today would be without the greatest works of art and scientific discovery.

But there is a hidden danger – people can become so good at overriding their instinct, inner feelings and the messages their systems are trying to give them that they don’t even hear the message anymore. Many people who are suffering stress don’t even realise they are. Yet you can’t suppress feelings forever. Trying to do so eventually leads to burn-out or some kind of crisis point.

The first step in understanding your own balances and stress patterns is to learn to listen to your inner feelings and systems. Taking action is secondary to understanding your situation. It can be obvious things - how much time are you spending forcing yourself on, when you’d really rather be somewhere else? How much caffeine, sugar and other stimulants do you need to get through a day? Do you suffer irritation or mood swings without always being able to put the finger on why? It can be in simple behaviours too – I once realised I was stressed when I found my hands were saw from continually gripping the steering wheel too tightly!

Listening to yourself does have to be learnt. My recommendation for anyone who thinks they may have work life balance or stress issues is to keep a diary for a month – and simply notate feelings and observations about what you do, and always ask the question “why do I feel what I feel”.

Maintaining your living balances is ultimately about being satisfied and fulfilled in your life as you progress with chosen purposes – and it begins with self knowledge.


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