PHOENIX, Arizona -- Most of us strive to maintain a sense of equilibrium in our lives, with success often coming in waves.
Wellness coach Erin Cox says there are days and even weeks when she feels as though her life has struck a perfect balance. During those times, she works two full days a week, spends lots of focused and loving time with her kids, has time alone with her husband, wakes up early to meditate and pray, has lunch or coffee with girlfriends, exercises six days a week, sleeps at least seven hours a night, and feels a sense of overwhelming joy and well-being.
And then there are the other days and weeks, when that perfect balance seems elusive.
"A work deadline comes along and things begin to come a bit unraveled in my home," Cox, the author of "One Hot Mama; The Guide to Getting Your Mind and Body Back After Baby," explained. "Life just starts getting out of whack when I am super busy, and I feel unbalanced. Suddenly, I don't make it to the gym for a few days, the refrigerator becomes empty, laundry piles up, and our home life becomes a bit disheveled. Our meals go from decent, homemade ones to takeout and quickly cooked ones."
"My kids notice because they spend more time with a babysitter, so when I am with them, they adhere themselves to my side," Cox, a mom of three, continued. "The toddler clings to my leg, and my mommy guilt kicks in strongly because I am clearly not spending enough time with my precious children.
"These times simply happen to all moms, especially when we are engrossed in a project or have a major work deadline. Occasionally, this is completely normal and OK. But as a way of life, this can be draining, depressing, and a contributor to marital distress."
Balance is achievable, especially if you keep your life in "the happy range." The happy range is where everything in your life is feels "right," and you are spending your time and energy in alignment with your priorities.
Here are 5 ways you can live a life that feels more balanced, joyful, and happy:
1. List out the top 10 most important things in your life, such as your children, your faith, your relationships with your husband, friendships, exercising, hobbies, a clean house, etc. Put them in order of importance, and then think about how you actually spend your time. Are you spending your time and energy in alignment with what's important to you? If not, what do you need to change?
2. Try to dump one or two time-sucking activities that pull you away from living a balanced life. For example, if you volunteer at your child's school and keep getting tasked with more and more duties, draw a line and do only what feels right to you. If housecleaning is overwhelming to you, see if you can fit it into your budget to hire house cleaner to do deep cleaning once or twice a month.
3. Schedule your week out every Sunday evening. It sounds a bit tedious, but if you are in control of your calendar and manage your time, you can make sure to schedule in your workouts, date nights, time alone, or whatever it is that makes your life better.
4. Lighten your standards a bit. If you crave more time with your children and husband, but spend two hours each day cleaning and tidying, see if you can let your standards slide a bit. Limit the number of times you are picking up toys - such as simply cleaning up at the end of the day when kids are in bed, so you can reserve your kids' nap time for your own creative endeavors or relaxation time!
5. Don't forget that "feeling good is feeling God," as Dr. Wayne Dyer says. Life should be savored and enjoyed. If the joy has been sucked out for you, then do some re-evaluation of how you are spending your time.
You should feel happy a majority of the time. You should feel like life is good and you are living with purpose. If you feel down, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied a majority of the time, take a closer look at what is off.