When we talk about reducing stress, we often talk about balance. Because we’re all trying to juggle everything- family, running a house, seeing friends, work, exercise, eating well.
And that’s not even including the little things like painting your nails, reading a good book (right now it’s The One I Was by Eliza Graham) and getting a haircut. The list goes on right?
When training clients, whether it’s postnatal mums on Restore My Core or 1-2-1 sessions working on weight loss, I always ask about stress. It’s important to consider the effect stress could be having on your recovery or fat loss goals. Because increased stress (and therefore increased cortisol) does affect these things.
And most of us try to juggle too much. Inevitably something gives. We let some balls drop (snort). Which then feels like failure because we haven’t lived up to our unreasonable expectations of ourselves.
But is it really possible to achieve balance?
Because I feel like balance is bullshit.
Has anyone REALLY ever attained a state of perfection where all these things run in harmony? Getting their fair share of your attention?
Because I fucking haven’t.
But do we need to? I think part of the problem is that we think we should be able to do it, and put too much pressure on ourselves. Probably because there’s always some other mum who looks like she does. I guarantee she doesn’t. I would bet good money she’s either a screaming mess behind closed doors, hyper-controlling with her children, or drinking a lot more wine than you.
So what’s the answer?
I don’t know. It’s a Friday night and I’m writing this, that’s how good my work-life balance is. And I haven’t even had any wine yet. Surely you don’t expect answers to life’s problems from a fitness blog? But since you’re here I’ll tell you the best I’ve come up with.
Or rotate. Rotate your priorities, that’s better.
You can’t fit it all in. But you can concentrate on what’s important, at least for a while, then something else will need your attention, so you focus your energies there for a bit.
Let me explain. For me, my biggest priorities are family, work, and taking care of my health. I struggle to do all 3 as best I’d like, at once.
So when I feel particularly productive and motivated, I’ll have a period where I focus on my business. I’ll study, write blogs, develop the content I give to clients (videos, education) and generally try and move it forwards.
And I can just about manage this around childcare. But it means late nights, which means exercise is scaled back. I need the extra hour in bed so can’t get up for the gym. I don’t have as much ‘me time’.
Parenthetically I cringe a bit whenever I use that term, mainly because of Man Who Has It All. But while I know its clichéd I’ve yet to come up with a better term that everyone knows- suggestions below please.
WAKEY WAKEY BUSY DADS! Now is a good time to create perfectly natural skin, practise kindness and peel an almond mindfully. 'Me-time'.
— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) September 2, 2016
So I start to feel a bit crappy, lose motivation and decide to focus on myself for a bit. Which means work takes a back seat. I’m still doing everything I can for clients, but webinars and business plans? Not so much.
But now I can get some early nights, train a bit more, spend a bit longer cooking. And then maybe I’ll use some of my pre-school hours to see some friends.
The idea that you can divide your attention equally to every aspect of your life, every day, is bullshit.
So stop trying to.
Because the more I try to do or balance everything, the more stressful it is.
Ask for help. Let some balls drop (still chortling). You don’t have to juggle them all.
So what if this mean sometimes I forget to order food and we need take away? Or I skip the gym (I make sure I have enough activity with the kids to stay healthy though, or fit in home mini workouts- this is when the fitness knowledge comes in handy!)
Basically stop worrying so much about balance.
Self-care really is important though
I find litte things can help when everything is getting too much. Again, you don’t have to be too ambitious here. Whilst I love a good Epsom Salt bath, new mums might find that aiming to get dressed and have a shower is enough to feel a bit more human. Maybe go crazy and brush your teeth before midday.
Carving out even a small amount of time for yourself each day can make a difference. Ideally you can do this without having to lock yourself in the bathroom, but if it comes to it, my money says that your OH gets away with the odd 30 minute session in there. If that’s the case then so can you. Just make sure he’s at home to deal with the fallout when you do it.
And on the exercise front, if you want to find out more about how to make the most of your time with your postnatal training, get my 10 tips to getting back to exercise after baby here.
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