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Learn from your dog about work-life balance

Posted Sep 26 2011 2:25am

Dogs have the right idea about balance between enthusiastically embracing life, and recovery. Take them for a run along the beach and they will throw themselves at the task, tail wagging madly. But when they get home you can almost hear them thinking “golly, that was hard work – I think I’ll just take a nap”. Once rested, they’re back into the day with enthusiasm.  We could learn a lot from our canine friends about how to balance work and play more effectively.

Our modern, fast pace of living doesn’t easily support a good balance between work and play. Mobile phones and email make it possible to contact anyone, anywhere, anytime, and with that comes an expectation that you will be available at any time. It can be increasingly difficult to take enough time out to rest, recover and rejuvenate. This can make you feel like life really is all work and no play.

Your body is likely to send you signals when you’re over-working and under-playing:

-          Your sleep can be disrupted, with waking during the night, or difficulty getting to sleep. That’s because your adrenal glands are pumping out stress hormones when they should be calm.

-          Being so tired that you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, with little enthusiasm for the day.

-          Craving sweet food or caffeine for an energy ‘lift’ to get you through the day.

-          Catching every cold and bug that’s going around because your immunity is so low.

-          Feeling like everyone wants a piece of you, and you’re not being rewarded for your contribution to the world. Resentment is a big red flag that you’ve been overworking.

-          Being grumpy, irritable and impatient.

What can you do to bring balance back into your life when you’re feeling over-worked?

-          Make sure you have at least some time every day just for you. Some people find that daily meditation or yoga gives them the time out they crave. Others prefer a walk in nature, or listening to favourite music.

-          Be unavailable for some time every week. Switch off your phone. Ignore your emails.  Leave a message that you’re unavailable if you need to. Then take time out to do something that pleases only you: Like a walk on the beach; or a massage; or diving into a good book.  

You’ll return from your time out feeling a little more refreshed and ready to take on the world again.



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