In our previous lesson, we talked about how exercise can assist us in achieving work-life balance, and discussed some practical steps we can take to get going. In this lesson, we will talk about how to manage the stress of work and life by being able to bounce back quicker from those stressors.
Best-selling author Steve Maraboli noted, "Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving; WE get stronger and more resilient."
I believe this accurately describes the impact resilience has on us achieving work-life balance. For most of us, our daily attempts to balance work and life will run into bumps – the plan will not go……as planned. So, what do we do when things do not go as planned?
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.
You may have heard the resilience before – and you may have likened it to the idea of "toughing it out" or maybe even "stick with it." That thinking comes from the idea that when a challenge comes our way, we keep slogging through the mud hour after hour to meet that challenge. For example, in college, I thought I was resilient by pulling all-nighters and studying for an exam that was 8 o'clock the next morning. However, that slogging-through-it mentality is NOT how resilience works.
Resilience researchers have noted that resilience is about "trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again." These periods of recovery can help us recharge, reset, and be ready to work hard again – at whatever it is you're working on – paid work, volunteer work, raising a family, or other pursuits.
And the positive benefit of resilience – that helps us with work-life balance – is that it helps us to NOT burnout – we don't get burned out at work or home, and we perform better.
Here are 2 strategies that you can use to build your resilience immediately:
First – take detachment breaks at work and in other roles. Simply put, take a short break – perhaps 10 minutes – every 90 to 120 minutes. We know from research that 120 minutes – or two hours – is about the maximum amount of time our energy cycles will allow us to focus on a task. Whatever it is that you're doing for the 90 – 120 minutes, stop and take a detachment break. Detach from the task when possible. Have you been sitting at your computer in your office working on a proposal for a client? Stand up and walk away from the computer. When I am at work, I take my detachment break by walking around the outside of the office building – weather permitting – no screen time, not on the phone making a call. Just me, taking a walk and NOT working for a few minutes so that I can recharge. You might listen to music during your detachment break…or maybe another Listenable course for a few minutes. Have you been watching your child for two straight hours? If possible, take a 10-minute detachment break. This is easier to do if your child naps – that's your detachment break. But if your child doesn't nap, perhaps there is a trusted neighbor or family member that can assist you with taking a detachment break. As an added bonus, you might consider a brief exercise session – from the prior lesson in this course – as one of your detachment breaks. Research shows that exercise is highly correlated with resilience – meaning, those who exercise regularly are more resilient than those who do not
And the second strategy is to practice positive reframing. As I noted earlier, we are going to run into bumps in the road when it comes to our plans. How do we react to that? Here's how this plays out in my own life. I plan to be at work by 8:00 am one day – I am driving to work on the highway when traffic comes to a complete stop for several minutes due to an accident up ahead. This is going to make me late to work – thus, derailing my plan. One option is for me to be angry, bang on my steering wheel, and yell – at no one in particular – that I'm mad about this delay. Or – I can positively reframe the situation. I can think about 1) the fact that I am safe and I was NOT involved in the automobile accident up ahead. That's a huge positive! 2) I can be thankful that I have a job to drive to on the other end of this commute. That is a blessing and something to be thankful for. Likewise, I can be grateful that I have a car to make that commute in. The list goes on and on if I think long enough. Does this completely remove the frustration of being delayed that morning. No. But it does put things into perspective and helps me to be much less frustrated.
Your task going forward: Think about which of the two resilience strategies we just talked about will be best for you to try this week. Is it the detachment breaks? Or maybe being more intentional about positively reframing frustrating situations? Or maybe both?
In the next lesson, we will talk about two factors that can help us better balance our lives: rest and finances.