Thursday, November 22, 2018

11 Ways to Help Maintain Life-Work Balance and Mental Well-being

It's been a while since I last posted. I took a bit of a social media break, mostly because life has gotten a little crazier than usual, and I've been working really hard to be more mindful and to be present in reality.

Life-work balance isn't easy. For the last few weeks I've been feeling like I've just been keeping my head above water, but only just. If a wave were to come in, I'd be in real trouble.

I've talked before about my history with PMDD, and it has recently resurfaced - not to the same degree, but I notice it almost immediately after ovulating. I have to laugh a little bit, because in my head and my body, sometimes it feels like I go into this "empty uterus depression." I hate stereotypes of women being useless during "that time of the month," but to be honest, for me, there is totally a link between my fluctuating hormones and my ability to function optimally (Let me assure you, I can still function, but I know I'm better than this).

I don't know exactly how many other women feel this way. There are a lot of women out there who are so much better at functioning while their hormone levels are changing.

To be honest, without my own naturopathic and self care I would be drowning. And I think it's up to us to realize when we're starting to slip and to get help immediately. Here are a few things I've been working on - practices to help other women keep this balance and keep their heads above water.

1) If you're waking up early for work, go to bed earlier. My bedtime has been scaled back to around 9:30pm. That might sound fairly early, but I haven't been sleeping as well due to added life stress, so I'm more tired than usual.

2) Find out if you need extra nutrient supplementation and take your supplements regularly. This may include extra magnesium (especially magnesium malate), B12 injections, vitamin C, etc.

3) Get assessed and consider extra stress and nervous system support. Nervine herbs like oatstraw (Avena sativa) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) can be calming, support sleep, and mood.

4) Don't forget to exercise but it needs to be something you look forward to, and keep it shorter. I've been doing more yoga lately which helps immensely. Even 20-30 minutes of activity will make a huge difference in your mood. If you don't have time to do this everyday, take 5 minutes to stretch out on your floor. Or maybe just do a couple forward folds, moving with your breath.

5) Schedule 30 minutes each day for you. Read a book that you've been meaning to get through. Wind down for 30 minutes before your bedtime to you do an activity that calms you, brings you joy and that isn't work. I've been either reading or knitting, which has been a huge help for my own mental well-being.

6) Talk to a friend or family member. When I'm this busy and stressed out, I embrace my introvertedness (yup, I'm also making up words), and I don't want to go out anywhere. So instead, I'll call my mom or sister, or even just send them a text if I don't feel like I can talk. Partners/husbands are also great for hugs and cuddles. Petting your cat or dog can also have calming effects.

7) Cry. Seriously, go have a good cry. Then get your breath back and work on slowing and controlling your breath.

8) Journal. On days you don't feel like your 30-minute wind-down activity (see #5), then instead write down a few of your thoughts. What are you grateful for today? What do you need to do tomorrow? What are you looking forward to? What are things do you wish you could get done that aren't getting done? Write down anything. Just write for 5 whole minutes, then go to bed.

9) Once a month (or more frequently if you can swing it), do something bigger for you: go get a massage. Go for a swim. Take an exercise/yoga/support/meditation class. There are so many out there! has some great local options, for all interests.

10) Save time by setting up deliveries. For example, use services like MamaEarth Organics in the greater Toronto area and have groceries (and good healthy foods!) delivered to you automatically each week. Do all of your holiday shopping online to save you the time and stress of having to go to a shopping mall and dealing with crowds. Hire a cleaning service to come to your house maybe once or twice per month. Anything that can give you more time for the things you really need.

11) In general, set a schedule for yourself. Choose a time to stop responding to emails. Schedule time that is just family time. Schedule time for you alone. Set a schedule for both work and your personal/family life and do your best to stick to it.

Sometimes even one activity/class per month can be daunting when you look at your calendar, but I think we need to get back to taking care of ourselves. One day per month isn't a lot to ask. Nor is 35 minutes daily for you. That's 35 minutes out of our 960 minutes (16 daytime hours) per day. Of course, finances can also interfere in the above plan, so do only what you can manage.

And ever forget to ask for help when you need it. You may be surprised by how many people come to your aid when you reach out and ask for help.