Can someone work full time, be a parent, train, have hobbies and downtime all while achieving so called “balance”? I believe so, yes. Because it’s all relative to how an individual manages these various demands in their life as opposed to how many demands they have in their life. Let me explain.
On one hand we have “stress” or an actual event and on the other we have a stress response. An individuals ability to manage their stress response while going about their many life commitments is a greater measure of balance and more likely to result in a happy, healthy being, regardless of how much is on their plate.
I work with athletes (no they are not elite, they are everyday people who love exercise who I term “athletes”) who train anywhere from 8 - 20 hours a week. Myself and many other athletes I’ve worked with eventually pay the price of attempting to achieve this ultimate life balance in the pursuit of athletic potential. As a result of my own battles with burnout, fatigue and hormone imbalance I’ve come up with some key strategies that can help anyone achieve balance, regardless of the amount of hours they work, train, study or spend with their kids.
Let me share them with you…
1. Mindfulness, be present, slow down and meditate
I’m a high achieving, A type, business owner and athlete. Slowing down is not in my make-up - so before you skip this step, just know that I get it too. However if you can let go of any pre conceived ideas about “not able to mediate” or “it’s not for me” these steps will change your life.
Often we get in our own way when simple solutions like meditation or mindfulness present themselves. Take a leap of faith, give meditation or mindfulness a go for 7 days, 10 minutes a day is all I ask. I recommend an App called Buddifhy - with guided tracks for 3 - 12 min suitable for many moments or activities throughout the day. By taking time out of your day to be present, gain clarity and calm you will tackle life with more ease, going about your busy life without the rush or stress factor.
2. Stress response
As I alluded to earlier, most of the time it’s not the stressful events that fill up our week that are the problem, it’s our response to them. I’m sure you’ve noticed how people respond to stress compared to yourself. We all perceive stressful events differently.
Utilising the steps outline in step 1, will assist greatly in lowering your stress response, enabling you to get to a late meeting or bad traffic, unflustered. Meditation and mindfulness will assist with the physiological response to stress, the next step is to change your mindset around stress and your relationship with being “busy”. This change won’t happen overnight as you’ve developed these thought patterns over many years, I recommend utilising a psychologist or life coach to help reframe your mindset and thoughts or simply by writing a journal to be more aware of your thought processes.
Food = mood. 100%, no if’s butts or maybes. What goes in your mouth with directly affect your stress response and mood. If you find yourself on-edge, a bit anxious and unable to slow down until you physically crash, it’s time to take a look at how nutrition is playing a part in controlling your mood. With balanced nutrition derived from real food, (Ie: does not come from a packet), we achieve blood sugar control to help stabilise mood, enabling you to cope with stress and experience consistent energy.
4. Life “hacks”
I’m not a podium level triathlete, but there is one element I absolutely kick butt in a Triathlon. The transitions. I’m all about efficiency, doing things the smart way to save time, effort and brain space.
Take a good look at your week, the things that increase stress unnecessarily, take up unnecessary time and brain space - brainstorm some options to do it differently.
I speak to many athletes and parents who experience a lot of stress and rushing around going to the supermarket. Removing supermarket visits from my life has been pure bliss, saving me time and money. I buy my pantry and home staples monthly from online stores such as Bulk Whole Foods, order my weekly veggies & fruit to be delivered and visit the butcher fortnightly to stock up on meat and seafood. Companies like Who Gives a Crap will take care of your regular toilet paper delivery too.
5. Prioritise and follow your bliss
What defines you or someone else as busy? Because i’m sure your definition of busy is very different to those around you. I have athletes who work 50 hours, look after 2 kids, train for ~12 hours and have a social life who wouldn’t describe themselves as busy or stressed because they are doing the work they love, have a happy family, stimulate their body with exercise and good food for brain health. However if someone hates their job, is going through family stress, or not looking after themselves it can be very easy to get stuck in a negative mindset, feeling tired and run off your feet all the time, regardless of what tasks you have in front of you.
If you’re looking for balance, look at the level of satisfaction areas of your life bring to you, are they in line with your values? Work towards this alignment of satisfaction and following your bliss and it won’t matter how many hours you work per week, you can achieve that feeling of balance and contentment.
Often trying to bring all these elements together can be overwhelming, start with each step individually and let the positive effects of these new habits flow onto the next step. I work 1:1 with athletes and weekend warriors to help them achieve life and training balance in pursuit of their goals. If this sounds like you, I’d love to hear from you and work together.
In Happy Hormones,
Katee Pedicini is a self-confessed “Hormone Nerd” with a background in Exercise Science and a passion for Triathlon.
She combines her knowledge or physiology, functional anatomy, and testing protocols from her Bachelor of Exercise Science with research from fields of hormonal balance, female reproduction systems and Triathlon related studies specific to females to coach and guide endurance athletes. , which ultimately led her to penning her book: “Healing The Grumpy Athlete” - Embrace your Hormones and Achieve your Athletic Potential