If you think going to the gym is a guilty pleasure, read this article.
Balancing marriage, parenting, work, and life responsibilities can feel like a high-wire act. Our children need us, our spouses expect us to be there for them, and then there are parents, jobs, financial pressures and daily obligations pulling at us all at the same time. This does not even begin to address our desire to take care of ourselves. Carving personal time out for a gym class or quiet cappuccino in a coffee shop seems as if we are seeking guilty pleasures.
Some nights we lie awake thinking to ourselves that nobody in this family is happy because each person believes I am there more for the others – and this includes ourselves.
Here are five strategies for successfully juggling our relationships and commitments:
1. Take Care of Yourself
In case of an emergency on a plane you must first place the oxygen mask over yourself and only then can you begin to take care of your children. If you are not breathing you are of no help to anyone else.
If you feel as if you are choking, your family will feel it. Begin by taking care of yourself. Be committed to your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Make a plan and set real goals. Stop overlooking yourself. This is not selfish and self-centered; it is not a guilty pleasure. Look at it instead as giving your family the greatest gift possible: The gift of a joyful ‘you’.
2. Acknowledge the Challenge
When we feel pressured we snap at the people in our lives. Family and friends become the most convenient targets. As we push loved ones away, a cycle begins where we start to feel isolated and alone. Our relationships suffer. Those closest to us who can help us find calm in the storm grow distant.
Instead of getting angry at our partners, set aside time to speak together in a calm moment. Concentrate on your tone and body language. Be careful not to speak impatiently or seem standoffish. Say, “I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker right now. I realize that I may seem snappy and moody. I am feeling overwhelmed. And while it’s not an excuse, it is something that is making me act out. I am in a bad spot and now I want to work on solutions.”
Show that you are recognizing the problem instead of living as if this is your normal.
3. Anticipate and Plan
Often our feelings of being overwhelmed come from being stuck in the same difficult situation time and time again. The kids are coming home from school all at the same time, mornings are out of control, your spouse is having a hard time in the office and walks through the door in a grumpy mood. And these challenges occur each and every day. The real surprise is why are you once again caught unaware?
If you can anticipate that the mornings will be stressful, you can tell yourself that you know what’s coming. Understanding that your stressed partner needs time to unwind before interacting with you; it prevents you from getting bent out of shape each night. You will feel prepared instead of off-kilter.
Anticipation also helps you find solutions. You can work on a doable plan instead of throwing up your hands and feeling as if this is just not possible. If you envision that nighttime is chaotic and the house will be noisy when you return home after a hard day, you are less likely to lose it because you know what to expect the moment you walk through the door. And you can be realistic and set practical ways to find evening balance instead of exploding.
4. Find Your Positive Energy
Some of us live life in the positive lane while others only hear negative voices. The choice is yours. When we ‘awfulize’ our situation, nothing seems good. We easily fall into an overwhelming feeling of discontent. Our minds fill with the worst case scenario. Even the smallest difficulties loom large and we don’t think we will manage.
Here are some negative self-talks to try and stay away from: “My life is crazy.” “Nothing ever goes right for me.” “I’ll never be able to fix this mess.” “I hate my life.”
When you have a cd playing in your head that makes you feel as if you are living a miserable life, you lose the positive force that lies within. Solutions become difficult to come by. Life seems dark. Joy is a distant dream that remains unattainable.
The happiest people I know are the most positive. But living with a positive eye takes work. When you begin to find yourself traveling in the negative lane be conscious of what is happening. Counter the negative thought with a more confident one.
5. List Your Priorities and Goals
We spend too much time busying ourselves with meaningless activities that strip us of a sense of balance in our day. Surfing the net, checking Instagram, playing candy crush, senseless texting are all ways we find ourselves wasting hours. We don’t begin to realize how precious our time in this world is. We take opportunities with family for granted. Instead of interacting with loved ones, we forget how to cherish the simplest moments. Of course we feel unbalanced.
There is too much emotional clutter clouding our lives. It is time to get organized and rid ourselves of the mindless acts that prevent us from living each day to the max. Begin by thinking about your priorities. List your most important goals. How much time do you spend that reflects your values? And how much time is wasted; making you feel as if you don’t have enough hours in the day?
Seeking balance while working on solutions will help us live with a positive spirit, feeling energized and better able to handle life’s challenges.
Slovie Jungreis-Wolff is a freelance writer, and a relationships and parenting instructor. She is the daughter of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder of Hineni International. Slovie has taught Hineni Young Couples and Parenting classes for more than 15 years. Her book, “Raising A Child With Soul,” is published by St. Martin’s Press.