Category Archives: Mental Health

5 Proven Practices to Be Effective Working from Home

You suddenly find yourself working from home for an undetermined length of time.

Maybe it’s something you’ve thought about doing but never expected it to become a reality. And – suddenly, it is your life!

You may be thrilled and excited – or you may be wondering exactly how to make it work and to continue to produce at your highest level.

Working from home has been my way of life for years and there are five things that I found crucial for success. It is different from being in an office (a controlled working environment), and adjustments must be made.

If you implement the following five suggestions – from the beginning and be consistent in using them, you will be successful.

1.    Establish a Designated Workspace

Ideally, this would be a separate room designated as your office only, with a door that can be closed when you are working.

Home OfficeIf a separate room is not possible, the next best choice is a corner of a room with a door that is used for other things but can be closed during your scheduled working hours.

If neither of those is possible, be creative! A large closet can be transformed into a very efficient workspace. One with doors that can be closed to keep your work untouched when you are not around is perfect.

Find the best place possible in your home, make it as private as you can, and enlist the support of your family to keep it untouchable – because it is where you “go to work” each day. 

2.  Create a Schedule and Follow It. 

This can often be the biggest challenge for first-timers working at home. The easiest schedule to follow is your regular work schedule – if your office hours have always been 8 to 5 with a half-hour for lunch, start there. After a few weeks, you can adjust it to fit your situation. If you can work more effectively in the wee hours of the morning, or late at night, go for it. But, whatever schedule you set, stick with it. Consistency is critical.

Get Up and Go to Work

When you are working at home,  you must keep regular working hours. You get up and go to work every day whether you want to or not. Plan exactly how you will use the time and stick to the schedule. You need a starting time, breaks, lunch, and a quitting time – follow it as closely as possible every day.

Take a 15-minute break every morning and afternoon. Don’t forget to stand up and stretch, do some deep knee bends, and walk the perimeter of the room a couple of times – then, back to work.

Set a time limit for breaks and lunch and stay within the limit. If you don’t, a 15-minute break can turn into an hour and a 30-minute lunch can turn into the whole afternoon.

You do not have to get up and shower, shave or put on make-up, but I recommend that you do those things anyway to keep you in a working frame of mind,

A big plus is that you have extra hours in the day because you no longer have to commute.   

Being a virtual employee is still a real job! Do your job every day – follow your schedule, stay focused, and get the job done! The key to productivity is discipline.

3.    Manage Distractions

No TV in the background, surfing the Internet, and checking/posting on social media.

With no one is looking over your shoulder, you must deal with the temptation to “watch just one program on TV” or have that second (or third) cup of coffee before you sit down to work.

If you have a family, you have the possibility of frequent interruptions, noise, and unexpected distractions. Enlist your family’s support by asking them to agree to respect your schedule and understand that during working hours you are unavailable.

The more disciplined and consistent you are, the more your family will accept that you are working – just as you always have. They will eventually realize the only difference is that you are doing it at home.

Just because management is out of sight – they should not be out of mind. You do not have free rein to do whatever you feel like doing throughout the day just because you are at home.

It is a good idea at the end of each day to make a list of things you need to accomplish the next day, which helps you to stay on track – preventing the temptation to flit from one thing to another, randomly doing whatever comes to mind. Disorganization results in low productivity and potential failure in the long-run.

A plan for how you will use your working hours can be as simple as dividing your day into blocks of time and assigning a category of work to each chunk of time. Google Calendar is a useful tool for planning and includes daily reminders of what you should be doing at certain times of the day.

A solid work ethic, self-discipline and the ability to stay focused (on-point) are three key characteristics that you will find in all successful self-employed or virtual employees. If those characteristics are already part of your make-up, you are WAY ahead of the game. If not, the faster you develop them, the faster you will realize the success you are seeking.

4.    Enlist Your Family’s Support

Your family may not understand at first that nothing has changed about the work you do, except the location in which you are doing it. Talk to them about the change and what it will mean for them.

Post a schedule of your work hours on the door, or a wall near your desk and ask them to honor the time you are “at work.”  There should be no interruptions except in cases of life and death emergencies.

Do Not Distrub Sign for Doorknow A “do not disturb” sign on the door can be very effective. You should also make it clear that when the sign is on the doorknob, the only acceptable form of communication is texting, to which you will not reply unless it is an emergency.

One of the problems that can develop from your being at home all day is that you should be available and willing to play with them, talk to them, or help them with something anytime they ask. 

These problematic infringements on your time are easier to combat when you are clear about the situation, and you have a work schedule in place that you follow religiously.

There should be no question in their minds (or yours) about what you are doing. It is important to have clear rules about when you are available and when you are not.

5.    Be Disciplined and Consistent

You may be thinking, “Working from home will be a piece of cake, no worries,” and brush off the suggestions I have given you.

Mastering unexpected change in a daily long-term routine requires self-discipline together with consistent and focused effort. You must be willing to invest the necessary time and effort for as long as it takes, without relenting, until you have developed a new rhythm and flow to the way you do your work in this new environment.

Developing this kind of disciplined consistency as a virtual employee is usually most difficult in the beginning. You will never be as productive in your new working environment as you were in the office if you are not willing and able to put forth consistent and focused effort over time.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. Working virtually can be a rich and rewarding experience if you choose to take the necessary steps that will make it so.

Still Man’s Best Friend – Especially for Baby Boomers

Man's Best Friend

Now that you are an empty nester, what would you do without Gimley, your ‘fur baby’  –  man’s best friend?

You may even be living alone, trying to figure out what comes next and Gimley keeps you sane.

You are one of the 76 million Baby Boom Generation, born between 1944 and 1964 – a generation that loves dogs.

Dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’ since they were first domesticated, thousands of years ago. But, Baby Boomers seem to have taken it to heart more than other generations.

They make up 37% of all dog owners – a sizeable chunk of the dog-owning population.

If you are a ‘boomer’ or are related to a ‘boomer, you know their dogs  are more than just a friend to keep them company as the years pile up and retirement is looming. They are part of the family.

Why Boomers Relate Differently to Dogs

Baby Boomers were welcomed into a world that was enjoying a new level of comfort. Life was different and possibilities unknown to prior generations were everywhere. This included dog companionship on a different level.

They grew up with their dogs in the home and developed strong bonds with their furry friends at an early age. The connection to pets was intense and those relationships were carried into adulthood.  

The Shift from Outside to Inside

Before the Baby Boomers, dogs were primarily outside pets. You may remember the backyard dog houses. But with the Boomer Generation things changed.

Pups were kept inside and integrated into the family, which created a companionship dynamic that had never before existed.

The strong bond Boomers have with their dogs goes a long way in keeping them feeling fulfilled and sociable.

Coping with Change

The companionship and unconditional love that dogs provide helps owners adjust more easily to life changes.

  1. The empty nest – filling the gap when children leave.
  2. Physical well-being (staying active) – dogs must be walked, so owners get more exercise.
  3. Mental health – there are issues that can arise as a person moves into different stages of life. The loving companionship of a dog reduces loneliness and lessens the risk of depression and anxiety

Dogs Are Social Facilitators

Boomers know that dog owners reap social benefits that do not come with other types of pets.

Dogs love to be outside, they love to run and play, and they have to be “walked” for exercise and relief. The result is dog owners tend to get out of the house several times a day and enjoy the side benefit of easily connecting with other dog owners.

A few activities that Boomers enjoy with their furry best friends:

  • Getting to know the neighborhood and the neighbors
  • Being part of a dog-walking group
  • Attending dog-focused events
  • Regular visits to the dog park

Dogs Are Good for the Heart

When it comes to heart health issues, dogs have your back. According to a nationwide study, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.

The researchers also found there is a link between the breed and the relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hunting breeds were related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than any other breed of dog.

So, if you are in the market for a dog, you may want to consider a Labrador, beagle, Weimaraner, golden retriever, or bloodhound.

And . . . That’s Not all

There are many health benefits of living with man’s best friend.

The companionship and higher levels of exercise that come with having a furry friend lowers the risk of high blood pressure.

It is hard to stay stressed when you feel the unconditional love that dogs provide. Studies have found that the simple scratching of your dog’s head can improve your mood significantly.

To sum it up – dogs are still man’s best friend, just ask any Boomer dog-owner.   

Related Article: High Stress Slows Down Your Brain

The article was adapted with permission from the original published on FOMO Bones.

Age in Place – Are You Prepared or Is There a “Rest Home” in Your Future?

Age in Place
Image by JacobLund@iStock

You are worried about what will happen to you as you get older.

You do not want to lose your independence.

Living somewhere else is not acceptable.  You love your home. 

It is your right to age on you own terms and in your own way

Everyone must plan for the future and how you will live as you approach your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.  The decisions you make today can affect your health, comfort, and safety during those years.

Many people are making  the decision to “age in place.”

Age in Place

The CDC defines this as “the ability to live in your own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

At first glance, it seems like the ability to age in your home is simply a matter of keeping yourself healthy and active for as long as possible. That is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only piece.

Choosing to age in place isn’t just about your home and your ability to remain active. It includes your connections and involvement with everything in your community.

Familiarity with your community/neighborhood gives you the confidence to move about and to engage with friends and neighbors.

I also allows for easy access to familiar health-enhancing resources like doctors (and other service providers), parks and walking trails, book club, and yoga class, etc. 

Risks of Isolation

The benefits of staying at home are important, but there is a downside.

A new study at Brigham Young University shows that prolonged loneliness and being socially isolated is the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. While friendships and meaningful relationships with others support our immune system, reduces our stress levels, and can actually reduce the risk of developing dementia.  

The author of the study and psychology professor, Tim Smith, said that the United States is facing a possible “loneliness epidemic,” revealing that more people live alone today than at any other time in recorded history.

The study’s co-author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, states that,

Loneliness should be considered a serious health issue. Just as one starts planning financially long before retirement, we should also consider our social resources in planning for retirement.”

 It is easier to work on preventing loneliness than trying to work your way out of it.

These social resources of the choice to age in place include planning how you will stay connected and involved in your community.

Do you have a family – siblings, adult children, and grandchildren – nearby? Do you have both long-term friendships and a way to meet and make new friends?

If not, you can consider a service like Silvernest that provide ways to meet like-minded people – in this case, to make a roommate match. Having someone living in your home with you helps to create a new friendship and provides a safety net should you need help.

Home Adaptations

Now (not later) is the best time to plan and execute changes to your home that will keep you safe and comfortable.

No one likes to look at things that scream, “You are getting older,” like ugly grab bars in the bathrooms. Thank goodness the design of these features has come a long, long way. When you are ready, take the time to shop around. You can find things that keep you safe and are also aesthetically pleasing.

You may find that it’s the little things that limit you – like kitchen utensils or the height of your toilet. These can be easily fixed. There are great alternatives that people of any age would enjoy.

If you aren’t already familiar with them, check out the universal design features of OXO kitchen products, or bathrooms from Kohler that are designed well without feeling old.

Projects, like leveling floors from room to room, living on a single level, and widening doorways, are all important adaptations, but they are also more costly. This is particularly true of homes in older, desirable neighborhoods.

Experts advise that if you plan to age in your home, make adjustments while you are working and have an income to support the costs. Also, the disruption caused by home improvements is easier to live with when you aren’t recovering from an accident or struggling with a health problem.  

Take an inventory of your home. Look for anything that seems annoying or limiting to you now – even in the slightest. This will only be exacerbated as you get older.

Technology for the Ages

If you have aging parents, stay on the lookout for the developments in technology that will help them stay connected and remain as independent as possible.

Apps are available for caregivers to keep you informed on their care and activities.

We live in a “sharing economy” that makes it possible to have almost anything delivered to the front door.

Ten years ago it would have been unimaginable to get into a stranger’s car or to have a roommate as you age, but companies like UberLyft and Silvernest have made it the norm – and these are services you will rely on more as you get older.

The world offers many advantages that early generations couldn’t have imagined as they aged.

The most important advantage you have right now is your planning window to age in place. 

With a bit of thought, you can make plans that support both your physical and mental health and keep your home the vibrant and safe place it is today.

This is an adaptation with permission of the original article published at Silvernest.com.

Related Topic:  7 Foods that Accelerate Aging

Live in the Moment and Improve Performance

Live in the Moment stop multi-tasking
Image by Krisdog

Stop Multi-Tasking

In spite of the fact that people brag about being able to multi-task, the reality is that the human mind can only focus on one thing at a time. When you pay attention to one thing the mind automatically blocks out all other stimuli. Multi-tasking is simply jumping from focal point to focal point; but, you are still only focusing on one thing at a time.

The payoff from trying to multi-task is not worth the toll it takes on the individual making the effort.

David Meyer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan states the following:

Doing several tasks simultaneously may seem like the height of efficiency – and it would be, if a person had more than one brain. In the real world, multitasking actually wastes time and reduces work quality.

Many studies have shown that multitasking slows down the mind and makes it less effective. Dividing and distracting the mind causes rapid mental course changes, the inability to effectively focus, and creates stress – which increases with every additional task that is added to the mix.

Imagine a dog who is trying to chase three different balls thrown in different directions. He runs two steps in one direction, three steps in another, and one step in the third. He ends up running in circles.

The mind is the same.

  • The more time you spend changing mental direction the less time you have to actually focus on a single task.
  • The more directions or mental tasks you add, the less effective you become.

Stop Worrying

But . . .  that is not the whole story. Another facet of multi-tasking is worrying about events, projects, or situations that have nothing to do with where your focus should be at the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or may happen changes nothing. All it does is drain your mental and emotional resources, making you less effective at the task at hand.

 Let your subconscious handle it. The subconscious mind is one of the most powerful tools that we possess. It is unnecessary to make an effort to keep everything at the “top-of-mind” because everything that happens is stored in your sub-conscious.

If someone asks what you did last Monday evening, you do not have to consciously go back and examine every minute of that day to find the answer. The subconscious mind takes over; it instantly searching the brain’s archives, retrieves the memory and quickly delivers it to the conscious mind.

It works the same way with any task that involves memorized actions and facts. Like conscious thoughts, these subconscious processes also utilize brain energy and processing capacity that can go on overload if pushed too far, which can take a toll on your emotions.

The Human Computer

If you compare the brain to parts of a computer, the conscious mind is somewhat like the user interface, the part that becomes visible on screen that can be directed by the click of a mouse to execute a command.

The subconscious on the other hand is like the processor. While invisible, it actually does most of the work, executing on every command within milliseconds after the user initiates it.

Also, like a computer, if you ask it to execute too many commands simultaneously, or give a command that is far too large and complex, it will freeze and lock up.

Let’s look at an example:

You are under pressure to finish an urgent project at work. But, before you left for work this morning you had a fight with your spouse. You have consciously put the fight out of your mind, but your subconscious mind has not stopped running through the words spoken in anger and the emotions that flared.

After a hour or two at work, you realize you are not giving your full attention to the project; plus, you are extremely irritable, which is not typically your nature.

Even though you are not actively thinking about the fight itself, while you are trying to keep you conscious mind focused on the work, your subconscious continues to ruminate on the fight and react emotionally to it.

The emotional response of your brain is creating a physiological and psychological effect that is absorbing all your processing capacity and coloring every other thought you have, even those that have nothing to do with the fight at all.

Essentially, the mind has locked up! The past is controlling the present, making it almost impossible to function effectively and take care of what needs to be done at this moment.

Developing the ability to let go of the past, and stay in the present moment is critical to a high level of productivity and effectiveness.

Then . . . there is the challenge of the  future.  Some object to the philosophy of “living in the moment” by saying that the present is not the only important time frame – that the future is equally important. I agree the future is important, but there is a caveat that must be added.

Plan, but Do Not Dwell on the Future

We need to plan for the future, short-term and long-term. Setting goals and having a clear picture of where you want to go during the next few months and years will help pull you into the life that you want to create.

But . . . thinking about the future should not be something that consumes a large percentage of your mental time.

Like the past (which is gone and cannot be changed), the future, which has not yet arrived, also cannot be changed by your thoughts. It can only be changed as you live in each present moment – thereby creating the future.

Dwelling on the future is dangerous for another reason – it allows you to stack-up multiple possible scenarios that become stressors. Worry overloads the mind, causing an emotional crash (going back to the computer analogy) followed by mental paralysis.

There is no need to put yourself through that kind of mental anguish when your imagined scenarios may never happen. It is a total waste of time and energy to stress about all the things that may or may not happen. Live in the moment and deal with what actually happens – when it happens!

The brain tends to look at the size of the task involved – rather than stretch it out over time. That is why it is important to break down tasks and challenges into bite-sized pieces, so the mind does not stress out and go into resistance mode. It is also an excellent way to overcome procrastination tendencies.

Now that we have covered the negative aspects of focusing on too many things at once, let’s look at something that can be powerful and useful.

Get in the Zone

There is definitely something therapeutic about focusing on one all-consuming task. The majority of us probably have at least one experience of focusing completely on a specific task and found that it pulled us into “the zone,” blocking everything else from our awareness.

This “zone” is a maximal state of attention, which can also include a maximal state of enjoyment, or a maximal state of pain, depending on the nature of the activity.  The more you focus on a stimuli, the more you feel it.

The opposite is also true, the less you focus on it, the less you can feel or perceive it.

The body uses this principle to help reduce pain. When a person suffers from a cut, burn, or other painful injury, the pain can be diminished by massaging the area around the wound. The sensory nerves that react to the massage send pulses to the spinal cord.

At the same time it is also sending inhibitory pulses to the nerves nearby, which lessens the pain coming from nerves in the damaged area of the body. Scientists have even developed devices that can stimulate the nerves so much that they can negate a large portion of pain from severe injuries.

The psychological effect in the brain works the same way.  We can effectually block out stressful thoughts by occupying our mental channels with ONLY what is going on in the moment. This is known as “diversion.” In Spanish divertido means fun, entertaining, or funny.

Diversion is the core of using the present moment to find peace of mind and create high levels of productivity.

Live in the Moment

When life is full of chaotic elements that threaten to overwhelm, it is simple to forget them all by focusing solely on what you are doing in the present (the here and now).

Although pleasurable activities are great for this purpose, they do not have to be pleasurable for this to work.

Scrubbing the bath tub can work just as well as binge-watching your favorite TV series. In fact, scrubbing the tub may be even more effective since it requires the involvement of all five of your senses, instead of just sight and sound.

This is why many people find activities such as gardening, jogging, sports, listening to music, painting, and crafts to be very therapeutic. They are great stress relievers. Even workplace activities, when not tied to urgent deadlines, can be relaxing.

This principle of living in the moment is also fundamental to meditation, which is meant to absorb your mind completely – to bring you fully present by focusing on one thing – like your breath going in and out.

Find diversions that work for you – that bring you into the moment – the give you peace of mind and improved performance in anything you endeavor.

Find Balance to Achieve Peace of Mind

Image by Nelosa
Image by Nelosa

Reaching high levels of professional and financial success at any cost has been the modern-day Mecca to multitudes of business men and women for several decades.

Unfortunately, the attainment of such an all-consuming goal has not produced the peace and happiness that was expected. There was a dark side to success.

Fairly recently, the question of balance and its impact on mental health and happiness has taken center stage in many circles of psychological research. Dozens of studies have been conducted and published on the subject as companies and individuals alike have noticed that their chaotic lifestyle has not produced the happiness they hoped to achieve. The cost has greatly outweighed the benefits.

The majority of these studies agree on one thing – there is potential for incredible benefits from living a balanced life filled with interesting and varied experiences rather than living with an all-consuming focus on career.

The studies also included some important findings about the effects of stress. Stress is not always detrimental to health and happiness. In fact, a bit of stress here and there is actually healthy, for both plants and animals – it stimulates growth and development. It depends on the source of the stress, how relentles it is, and how it is managed.

Professional Burnout

The danger comes when relentless stress pounds the mind and body and the individuals accept it as the norm. They cope with it the best they can; but allow no time for recovery from the depletion of resources.

Professional burnout from chronic stress debilitates the individual to the point that s/he can no longer function effectively on a personal or professional level.

Psychology Today tells us that

“Burnout is one of those road hazards in life that high-achievers really should be keeping a close eye out for, but sadly – often because of their “I can do everything” personalities, they rarely see it coming.”

The individual may suffer with any or all of the following:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cynicism, anger, detachment
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
  • Bouts of anxiety and depression
  • Physical illness

Professional burnout does not happen overnight. It comes on slowly, overtime, making it difficult to recognize.  There are warnings signs, but there are rarely recognized until it is too late.

The human body thrives on moderation. In spite of that being a fairly well-known fact, there are huge numbers of people who gravitate toward extreme lifestyles. They tend to be adrenalin junkies with a need for more and greater challenges.

It may be a psychological compulsion to escape the sea of sameness that drives them to seek everything in unhealthy proportions. But, whatever the cause, there is an endless list of good reasons to avoid the rat race and live a life of moderation on all fronts.

The Pressure Starts Early

A close look at America’s higher education system is good case study for what is happening. As knowledge increases, and job requirements become more demanding, the amount of curriculum required to graduate from college goes up, while the time allotted for completion of tasks goes down.

This places students under incredible amounts of stress. If you are a recent graduate or have a child in college you are probably aware that symptoms of chronic stress are everywhere – poor eating habits, lack of sleep, chronic anxiety and depression, poor quality of work, and a decreasing appreciation for study.

As a nation, America, has created such high expectations and placed such high stakes on a single four-year period of life that the pressure is almost unbearable. Even the students with the highest scholastic standings begin to dread the moment they have to open a text book.

High schools are not much better. Even the elementary schools are intense. Kindergarteners and First Graders have homework! Is it any wonder than many children hate school?

The problem is simple. When you put too much emphasis on a single focus, and create too much pressure around it, eventually even pleasurable activities become drudgery. The joy of the activity itself is smothered by the stress connected to it.

A good illustration of this is that many artists decide to keep their art as a hobby or recreation, rather than pursuing it as a profession. They realize that if their livelihood depended on their art, the pressure would dampen the fun, and joy of creating would lose its magic.

In America the one aspect of life where this principle is most blatantly violated is work/life balance. American professionals push themselves beyond reason their entire lives with the goal of retiring early and enjoying life more. Unfortunately, they often get the early retirement in the form of an unexpected permanent vacation because they literally work themselves to death.

Today, even a “typical work week” is extreme – more often than not it is 60 to 90 hours rather than 40.

A Series of Unhealthy Extremes

In order to cope with the unrelenting pressures, people turn to energy drinks, alcohol, ice cream, cheesecake, and other comfort foods and activities to dim or wipe out the memories of everything that happened during the past week – or that they have to face in the coming week.

Life becomes a series of unhealthy extremes – each one throwing everything else more and more out of balance.

The Solution is Simple

Simple – yes! But, not necessarily easy to incorporate when you have been on the fast track for years.  It is called BALANCE!

Limit the number of hours you work each week – cut it down to at least 50, but 40 would be better. Disconnect from your electronic leash at the end of the day and on the weekend.

After a busy day at work, make it a practice to enjoy a nice dinner with family or friends.  Plan time in your schedule in the evenings or on the weekend to do something you really enjoy – painting, hiking, swimming, basketball, reading, going to the movies – anything that is FUN and takes your mind from the pressures and responsibilities of work.

When you take the time for self-care on the weekend, going back to work on Monday morning will be much easier. You will have decompressed and regenerated enough that you will be able to handle work stress and the occasional crisis with grace and dignity – and let it go when it is over.

Daily and weekly rest and relaxation stabilizes you emotionally and psychologically. It is a much wiser strategy than working nights and weekends 95% of the year so that you can take one extended annual vacation.

Developing a nice balance of work, rest, and fun throughout the week increases overall satisfaction with life.

Balance and Moderation in all Things

The human body and mind were not meant to handle excess.

Balance and moderation can be applied universally in life, whether it is eating, sleeping, exercise, entertainment, socializing, study, or work. For example, the body does not do well when you starve it for three days and then binge eat for three hours.

The secret of good health and peace of mind is striving to find balance in every facet of your life.

Be sure there is time in your schedule to purchase fresh, healthy foods, to prepare tasty meals and allow plenty of time to enjoy them. Eat regular nutritious meals every day to provide the necessary fuel for your miraculous body to function at the highest level.

Regular exercise in moderation is also a key factor to mental and physical health, as is regular social interaction, regular eustress (a good form of stress that can actually increase our performance at a task and your general happiness and sense of well-being), regular sleep habits for adequate rest, and regular relaxation.

The word “regular” comes from the root “to regulate” which means to keep things in their proper proportions.  But, even regulation can become extreme. If you obsess over counting calories, timing your exercise to the second, and stress when you only get seven hours and twenty minutes of sleep, you need to loosen up a bit.

It is not uncommon for people to go from an extremely chaotic lifestyle to an extremely regimented one. Flexibility is critical to a balanced life. Being able to go with the flow is important.

There will be days – even an occasional week when things get out of balance. That is to be expected. It is perfectly OK, as long as you do not allow it to become the “norm” again and slip back into a permanent pattern of imbalance.

Other Possible Dangers

When making the shift from a chaotic, extremely hectic life to a more normal pace, there are some common pitfalls to avoid.  One in particular is going to the opposite extreme and taking the stance that life is to be “lived fully.” That you should stop taking life so seriously and do whatever makes you happy – whenever you choose to do it – no matter what anyone else thinks.

This approach also carries with it the potential of great dissatisfaction. Meaning and direction in life, both personally and professionally, are powerful factors that contribute to health, happiness, and fulfillment.

If you remove the meaning from your work, then you remove the reason to work at all. It is the same with life. In fact, many of the happiest people claim that their source of joy comes from finding a deeper meaning to the everyday aspects of living.

The lesson to be learned from all this is that extremes of any kind are dangerous.

Recognize your physical and emotional instincts and live a lifestyle that accommodates them, but does not make you a slave to them.

Moderation and balance are the keys to a peaceful, joyful life.