How to balance your time as the world opens up again

A lot can change in one year’s time. Last year the shut down from covid was devastating. To be safe we had much fewer in person contacts and the ability connect with others was greatly impacted. Our needs for social engagement were greatly reduced which lead to many having feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. I even heard from some strong introverts that they were ready to get out and it was too much isolation for them.

Fast forward to now. So much has changed in the past six months. Masks are no longer required in most places if you are fully vaccinated, public gatherings are allowed, concerts and sports events are back and many are socializing with friends and families in groups. The world is getting back to “normal.” So what’s wrong with that??

Well from what I have seen people are so excited to be able to do more that they are overdoing it and overscheduling their lives. Saying “yes” to every invitation is often saying “no” to something else in your life. The “no” could be to your downtime or something else that’s important to you.

The pandemic and the shut down taught us that maybe we are moving too fast, scheduling too much and taking on too much in our lives. I hear from many clients that would describe their lives as “always on the go” and “no time for myself.” The question remains, is this the life you want to jump back into? What will be the result if your life continues to be so fast paced? Or can there be a happy medium where you get your social and recreational fun but not overextend? Just how do you do that?

Here are my top 5 ways to keep balance as the world opens up:

1) Resist the urge to say yes to every invitation from friends and family. I’ve fallen into this trap where I “felt bad” about saying no and just went to things I had no interest in. This lead to feelings of resentment and upset that my weekend or night was not what I wanted for myself. When you get an invitation, stop! Ask yourself, what do I really want for this day/time they are asking for? Is this something I want to do? What am I feeling in my body as I think about a response to this? Take some time before replying to really think about how you best want to spend your time. This takes some reflection to really dig deep. If going to Aunt Martha’s again for her cold sandwich lunch on Sunday sounds awful boring, then politely decline. This is a way of honoring yourself and your time.

2) Determine how many social events you want each weekend and if any during the week. I have found that if I do 3 events in one weekend, I am exhausted and don’t feel rested by Monday morning. The happy medium for me is 1-2 but everyone’s different so this may take some experimentation.

3) Schedule in blocks of time for weekly required activities (Like chores) and down time. But protect it! This can take some planning but it is worth it. For example, you could decide to leave Saturday afternoon free to do what you want and that gives the morning to do chores, errands or any other tasks that need addressing. Think about creating “blocks” of free time on days off during the week and keep your boundaries no matter how much friends or family members push you. Stick to your guns!

4) Take the reins and invite friends or family for activities you are interested in instead of waiting for invites from others. Try to schedule way ahead of time to give people time to properly plan.

5) Allow enough time for you to do proper self-care, this means getting enough sleep, eating regular healthy meals and regular movement. If you are not taking care of yourself physically, it will impact how you feel socially and in other parts of your life.

Maintaining true balance is not always possible but keeping it as part of your intention is a way to not become overwhelmed and overscheduled. It all comes back to honesty. Being honest with yourself with what you want your life to look, feel and be like. Being honest with others and setting firm boundaries with your doesn’t fit into what you want most for your life. It’s not always easy but worth the effort to be thoughtful in the choices you make in your life.