The book is out and this is a copy of the blog written for Jessica Kingsley which can be found here: http://www.jkp.com/jkpblog/2015/08/six-steps-to-finding-balance-in-busy-lives/
So what is the book about?
I’ve answered key background questions about why I wrote this book and what has kept me interested in the topic of work-life imbalance and over-busyness in life in the accompanying interview, which you can listen to by following by this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaOij_Q5q58.
But just in case you haven’t got the time to listen to that (which by the way is a sign of being over-busy or suffering from burnout or rust-out), it is important to know that life imbalance is one of the biggest causes of stress in the Western world; consequently understanding why we experience imbalance in our modern lives and finding strategies to help you overcome it is very useful, and the book, as the title suggests, does just that!
So what is burnout and rust-out?
Burnout and rust-out are caused by long-term stress and in the book I describe the symptoms of these in detail so you can identify whether or not it applies to you and/or recognise it in others; but briefly, burnout is marked by exhaustion and rust-out by apathy and disengagement. Which of these we experience and when is variable, dependent on the unique individual and his or her circumstances, so I also explain how stress and imbalance can be linked to some specific personality traits and thinking patterns that we can unconsciously adopt to manage the daily grind but which, unwittingly, can maintain our state of imbalance and levels of stress. For example, the book describes how people who rush around like busy bees, or those that put up with or make excuses for their busyness and overwork are all using different strategies to deal with life conflicts, pressures and time scarcity, but sadly, are failing to diminish stress. Alternatively those that fight back and overcome these pressures seem to be able to live a far more balanced and healthy life because they dare to challenge the status quo and take time to do things they find meaningful or enjoy doing, irrespective of the pressures of work or general over-busyness.
Resistance is not futile……..
Can you share 6 key techniques to achieve a healthy work-life balance?
There are several different ideas shared in the book but if I had to choose 6 they would be:
- Gain some autonomy over your workload
- Review and adapt your views and attitudes about work so they become congruent with what you really want in life
- Share your daily responsibilities with others
- Do something meaningful everyday
- Live in the moment
- Walk in nature
I give all the details about how to develop these skills in the book, but it is important to recognise that these techniques are not a panacea (in the sense of a cure-all or magic pill) in terms of work-life or indeed, more general life balance. That’s because, in reality, they all need you to put in a lot of effort in terms of making changes in how you live your life everyday, and that is not easy. For example if you are going to use mindfulness techniques to try to focus on the moment or cognitive behavioural strategies to change your thinking or attitudes about life balance, then you have to practice that regularly and put some work in everyday. That said, you do need to start somewhere and from small moves big things can grow and consequently, with practice, you can really change your sense of balance, your quality of life and ultimately, your wellbeing; thus practice may not make perfect, as the saying goes, but it can make life just a little richer and more satisfying.
Thanks to Peter Cronin, ARSMA, for the cartoons and drawings. His rather more beautiful landscapes and seascapes in watercolours, oils and pen and ink can be found at www.petercronin.org. It’s worth a look……if you have the time?