A recently referred client is male, 55 years old, married with children, and on the outside, looks very successful. Yet, he is having a horrible time dealing with his self-inflicted stress. He feels like he’s on his way to having a heart attack… and he’s right! I know, it’s crazy, but it’s also very common. Apparently, men from 50-59 have a higher suicide rate than any other group of Americans from 1999-2010. I’m sure it’s the same old story. Us men want be the “protector and provider” for the family and when things don’t go our way or we don’t meet our own expectations, we get stressed out. That escalates and we become out of balance in our relationships, career, children, friends, and worse yet, ourselves.
There are ways to help yourself from getting to far out of balance. There are even ways to bring you back if you are too far off track. They start with breathing and go all the way to training for Kilimanjaro.
The annual vacation. I know many of us can only take 1-2 weeks vacation every year. With life, work, kids, and everything else piling up, that week or two vacation is incredibly important. It’s also easy to plan a trip once, go on the vacation, say a beach in the Bahamas, relax, unwind, and then come right back to your schedule. I have an option for you. I recommend you plan for a vacation that takes training. For instance, if you’re going to climb Mt. Whitney or Mt. Kilimanjaro, it’s going to take training. Your vacation has now given you so many more experiences. You’ll find nearby mountains to hike to get yourself in shape. Surely, you’ll bump into people who are on the same trail and have common interests. You may even make new friends and then yes, you’re work-life balance will come back because your priorities have shifted back to enjoying this amazing thing called life and not letting it rule your well-being.
A quarterly weekend is something I used to do when I lived in New York City. Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC. I love the people, the energy, the vibrations are amazing, but that city can also be brutal. The concrete jungle can be tough if you’re a nature lover, sometimes Central Park just doesn’t do it for me. While I lived there I had to make sure I had times when I’d leave the city. I was lucky and I grew up on Long Island, so I was able to head back to my parents house, go to the Hamptons, and really enjoy beauty and solace of the beach and nature. I forced myself to get that work-life balance because I knew I might go insane or at least become super stressed out if I didn’t.
It doesn’t take a lot, you can go camping, or spend a weekend in a nearby city. You can even do a staycation were you make your own town and home a weekend getaway. That’s a bit more difficult because you might have a tendency to work while you’re home, but if you’re disciplined enough, it’s definitely possible. Of course, I highly recommend a yoga retreat. I’ve been leading them around the world for 14 years and I love them. This coming July 2017, my wife and I will be leading a Yoga, Hiking, & Cooking retreat right to our hometown of Malibu.
A monthly one day shutdown. This is another way for you to plan something. Go to a museum, or an art gallery. Find an outdoor event or go to a conference at your local convention center. It’s so important to give yourself something to look forward to. My wife and I just got tickets to Shen Yen, a Chinese dance performance. Probably not something we’d always go looking for, but it gives us date night, time to be by ourselves without our kiddo and time to check out of our daily routines and check back in to each other. All it takes is a few simple steps.
If possible, a weekly time without work. My wife and I have blocked out Sunday’s as family days. We try not to work at all on Sunday’s and for the last couple of years it’s worked out pretty well. We also try not to be too rigid just in case something comes up or we need to plan something and do a little work. We also prepare for our week on Sunday evenings. Just a quick glance at the week’s schedule to make sure our sub-conscious begins working on what we have to do all week long. That is a daily practice as well. The most important thing here is to have consistent times that you shut down. Shut down your phones and your work and just take time to be. It’s a lost art in our society, but so important for happiness.
On a daily basis, one great thing you can do is connect to your breath. It’s one of the best tools I know to help you relax. When you begin to feel stressed out, take a deep breath. In fact, take 3 deep breaths. You can count to 5 as you inhale, hold your breath for a count of 5, and exhale for 5. You’ll notice as you practice more and more you’ll hold for longer and exhale for longer. You can build up to 5 on the inhale, 7 holding, and 8 exhaling. This will immediately calm you down and bring you back to the present moment.
There you have just a few tools to help you begin to restore your work-life balance. I hope some of that helps you along your journey to happiness. And it’s my plea to help you avoid becoming like my new client. Your life will be much happier as you begin your journey of restoration. As always, I’m here if you need some help along the way. Find me online @teddymcdonald. Thanks for reading.
Originally published on the author’s website.