Balancing Competing Devotions

sunriseThese days, the ultimate question may not be “What is the meaning of life?”, but simply, “Where do I find the time?”

Between our work and personal lives (family, friends, exercise, sports, hobbies, community commitments), most of us have seriously overbooked ourselves. We strive so hard to “have it all”—fantastic work and other service that we’re passionate about, and passionate home lives that we work hard to nurture.

But with so many competing devotions, so many passions we must feed, we most often find ourselves just plain pooped. The stress can lead to health problems, poor sleep and fatigue, which means we get even less done (or take less pleasure in what we do accomplish). Ultimately, frustration mounts, our relationships suffer, and we wonder what went wrong.

To break out of the out-of-balance cycle and achieve better balance between our competing desires, consider some of the following techniques, from the spiritual to the eminently practical.

Know Your Priorities

The near universal advice for creating life balance is to start with some process of getting in touch with your priorities, which reflect your values. What are you about? What is really important to you? Without some sense of these priorities as an anchor, it is almost impossibly difficult to battle the buffeting of daily life that fractures your time. Getting clear on your priorities allows you to gain clarity in setting goals for balance in your life.

Take Care of Yourself

This is not a paean to the “me generation,” but a simple reality. Your ability to devote time and energy to the rest of your life ultimately depends upon your inner resources. A common trap is to feel selfish about taking time for yourself—to exercise, relax, enjoy a hobby, cook a special meal and, of course, to get enough sleep. So to avoid that feeling, we often place those activities lower in priority than taking care of the other obligations of our lives. But the low priority items often don’t happen and we end up feeling somewhere on the spectrum between self-righteousness and martyrdom. Either way, we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Those around us suffer as well as us!

Schedule Creatively

In her book Coming Up for Air: How to Build A Balanced Life in A Workaholic World, author Beth Sawi offers numerous pragmatic approaches for building balance into your life when your job is absorbing every waking minute, and then some. Again, she starts with understanding your priorities to help arm yourself with the fortitude to make difficult changes. But to shore up that fortitude, Sawi, an expert on workaholism (and working for workaholic bosses) from her own life experience, recommends several scheduling techniques as a way of controlling your time at work.

One of these, for example, she calls “pulsing,” which is scheduling late nights at work on fixed days—say, Tuesdays and Thursdays—so that you protect the other nights. When a special assignment comes up, you already know you have extra time blocked out and can better resist the temptation to tackle it on an ad hoc basis. The “off” nights can also be pre-scheduled—for a weekly dinner out with your spouse, for example—to help build in the balance for the rest of what’s important to your life.

Start With Your “To-Do” List

Productivity guru David Allen is one of the few writers in the field who takes a fundamentally different view of the “priorities first” approach. Instead of starting with priorities, he recommends in his book Getting Things Done that you start with your “in box”—by which he means everything on your current list of things to do. Everything. He says a typical person has 200-300 tasks floating around in their lives—in their head, on little slips of paper squirreled away in various places, in their organizer (or backed up in their email inbox), on post-it notes stuck to their computer screen, and so on. This backlog of tasks uses up too much of your brain—which is poorly equipped to organize this kind of list—and creates unnecessary stress.

But Allen doesn’t suggest that you prioritize these to-dos at all: Fixing the dripping faucet goes on the list right next to planning for the kids’ college education. The key to Allen’s system is getting all the to-dos out of your head and into some trusted system so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. With your head clear, your instincts take over and you will find that the right things are getting done.

Allen definitely recommends reviewing your life from various “altitudes”—from your vision for the coming year to your vision for your whole life—to get in touch with your priorities and your goals for balance in your life…but only after you have control of that in-box.

With your mind clear, you can step back and take stock of your life. Your creative juices will be flowing to help you find that delicious state of grace in which your devotions at work and at home actually enhance each other, not deplete each other.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

Photo Copyright: maurus / 123RF Stock Photo

Are You Taking Good Care of Yourself?

self-care_mirrorWith our busy lives, for sale taking care of ourselves is more important than ever—yet it’s often the last thing on our minds. We have to meet that deadline, use break time to run errands, accomplish all the items on our list. Multitasking is so often part of being a business or professional woman. If you have been following my work for a while, you will know the negative impact on our health that stress can have—so, let’s find some balance. Take this self-quiz to see how well you are taking care of yourself.

T/F  1. When I’m upset and/or feeling hopeless, I talk about the situation with a friend, family member, coach or therapist. If I need help, I ask for it easily and without guilt.

T/F  2. I let go of the way things used to be. I accept the way things are now, while focusing on ways to improve my future.

T/F  3. Every day I do something physical even if it’s just a walk around the block or a 15-minute workout.

T/F  4. I eat healthfully and take the time to enjoy my meals. I set aside work, driving and other activities while I eat. I eat some meals with family or friends, without the television on!

T/F  5. I tend to think positively. I view problems as opportunities and obstacles as challenges.

T/F  6. I can say no when I need or want to. I find that doing this supports my lifestyle.

T/F  7. I remember to breathe, deeply. I can do this at any time, when I am busy, stressed, overwhelmed or pushed for time. I can feel the impact this has on my body.

T/F  8. If I’m experiencing physical symptoms, I go to a health care professional when appropriate. I don’t panic about the symptoms, but I don’t deny them either.

T/F  9. I can settle for “good enough.” I don’t demand perfection in everything that I do.

T/F  10. I recognize the value of working in different gears. Some tasks require less effort. This saves energy for those times when I need to push myself.

T/F  11. I get enough sleep most nights. I know what strategies help me to sleep deeply and well, and ensure I go to sleep before midnight when possible.

T/F  12. I value my personal relationships and give them the time and energy they need and deserve. I develop deep and meaningful relationships with those I love.

T/F  13. I choose healthy ways to relieve stress. I don’t rely on crutches such as smoking, drinking, caffeine and overeating.

T/F  14. I recognize the importance of breaks during the day, as well as vacations during the year. I understand and set myself healthy boundaries.

T/F  15. I am aware of and respect my feelings.

If you answered false to several of these, you may want to take an honest look at the impact your choices may be having on your life, your relationships (at home and at work), and on your short-term and indeed long-term health.

Is it time you took stock? Click here for a one – off opportunity to work with me at to reach for your deepest level of health!

Author’s content used under license, © 2009 Claire Communications

Functional and Integrated Medicine

Holistic medicineWhat is Functional Medicine?

At the root of functional medicine lies treatment of the whole person, treat to encompass mind, viagra sale body, ask and spirit. We believe in working in harmony with your own body, using natural approaches to enhance your health wherever possible.

So what will happen in my appointment?

Each appointment is an individual route to partnership between doctor and client. Dr Alison will assess where you and your health and well-being are now, and where you want them to be.

This discussion may embrace:

  • Do you know your core values?
  • What is your vision for your future?
  • How balanced are your body and your life? Are your hormones in balance? How is your work-life balance? Are you exposed to more chemicals than you need to be?
  • How well do you embrace rest and relaxation?
  • What are activity do you do to keep fit?
  • What is your current nutritional status and diet like?
  • Do you take time for reflection?
  • Are you ready to take action to change this?

How do we work together to improve your health and well-being?

We find that the best health can be obtained by using a combination of Western and Eastern medical techniques, with lifestyle adjustment and coaching, focusing on prevention.

Why would I choose a functional and integrated approach?

More and more people these days are becoming aware of the effects of over – use of chemicals and medications on our bodies and the environment as a whole. An integrated approach combines the knowledge of medicine with an understanding of more natural complementary methods, giving you the potential for the best possible health with the fewest side effects.