By Jackie White
Balancing all the things in life can feel like an impossible task. Sometimes it can get so overwhelming that we just forget about certain things, like taking care of ourselves! We know we have to go to work and take care of our families. We have to do those things, but spending time for ourselves often tends to go on the back burner.
Let’s peel back the onion on what life balance really means and why it’s important to be mindful of these areas. The 13 Areas of Balance outlined below are.most of the areas of life you will be juggling. It’s a lot and it’s normal to drop some of the balls because to be firing on all cylinders in these 13 areas at one time is probably too much for most people.
The 13 Areas of Balance
Self-Love - Making time for yourself and being kind to yourself.
Health and Wellness - Take care to eat properly and exercise your body regularly.
Love Life - Contentment in your current state of a love relationship.
Family Life - Contentment with your family dynamics and relationships.
Social Life/ Friendships - Satisfaction with connecting with others.
Environment/home - Comfort and peace in your home and work environments.
Career - Satisfaction with your career currently and for future opportunities.
Intellectual/Learning - Continuous learning about things you are interested in.
Skills - Practicing new skills for a personal hobby or career.
Community Life - Spending time giving back to your community.
Spiritual Life - Connection through religion, a higher power, nature or the Universe.
Creative Life - Taking part in some sort of creative endeavor.
Adventures - Making time for an adventure through travel or experiences.
Balancing it All
First of all, let’s recognize that there really is no way for you to be balancing all these areas equally, nor should you. Not all areas are as important as others and darn it, that’s where we get into trouble. We deem certain areas like family, love, and career as the top tier that need our attention. I cannot argue with that, but I will throw a flag on this play and say caution. When you get focused on only a few areas of life exclusively you will begin to feel burned out and not fulfilled.
Putting You on the List
When you ignore certain things like your health and wellness, sooner or later you will pay a price. You know that. But what about ignoring the need to see a friend or taking time each day to care for yourself in one kind deed or another? It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but just like with health and wellness, it will catch up to you. You enhance your life when you connect with others. You especially enhance your life when you decide you are worth being kind to...and for the record, you are worth being kind to yourself. That is really your number one job.
Being kind to yourself also means that in these other balance areas you are spicing up your life. Think about it: learning something new sparks your brain to develop new neural pathways! That’s exciting! Connecting spiritually gets you to know yourself so much better. How about your home? A peaceful calm space is a luxury after a tough day at work. Being creative provides joy and inspiration to maybe an otherwise dull day.
You see each area is important, so how do you manage it all? By being intentional. Choose the foundational areas you need to keep in balance daily (like taking care of your family, self-love, and health and wellness, for example). From there decide what other areas you can work on that week. Perhaps reading 20 minutes a day can replace scrolling through your social media, trying a new restaurant with a friend can fulfill your friendship area and your new adventure area! It’s all about being mindful of your time not trying to do everything at once.
For more help to keep you on track use SoulShine’s Personal Inventory Tracker and meet us live on Facebook on the first Wednesday of the month at noon for a check-in.
Traditions Connect Your Family and Make the Holidays More Meaningful. 7 Fresh Ideas To Make Your Holidays Special
By Jackie White
because that’s just the way it is done in our families. However, above and beyond the rote mechanics of implementing a tradition, we should look a little deeper at the importance of tradition in how it anchors a family and provides a connection.
The definition of tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation or the fact of being passed on in this way. The way tradition manifests in a family is that it can put down roots and comforts amongst a family. It defines who you are as a family, where you come from, and who came before you.
Your family may traditionally make lefse every year during the holidays because your family is originally from Norway. You might play “find the pickle” on the Christmas tree each year because your family hails from Germany. But what if your traditions have burned out? What if all you have left is making the green bean casserole because Aunt Carol has always made it since 1972? Maybe you need a refresh in the tradition department!
To even say new tradition seems like an oxymoron. How can something be new, yet a tradition? How does a new activity or new recipe suddenly become a tradition? Here is the great thing, there are no rules so you get to be creative here! Here are some ideas on how to start a new tradition that will last.
Look to your Heritage
Make a traditional dish or take part in an activity from the country or countries your family hails from. Tell favorite stories of your family. Storytelling is a great way to connect families together.
Celebrate traditions from a different country every year as a way to learn and do something new.
Remember the Meaning
Remember the true meaning of why the holiday actually exists. Some find that going to church is important others voice their gratefulness and love for their families and friends. This is a good opportunity to let those you love know how much they mean to you.
Make it Special
Use the fancy china or make the special pie that takes forever to make. Get dressed up and light some candles. Decorate, turn on some holiday tunes, and shut the tv off. Holidays are supposed to special and out of the ordinary. Go ahead and be a little extra!
Find the Fun
Look for an activity that is fun that everyone can take part in. The alphabet game is always an easy and fun way to engage everyone at the table. For example, on Thanksgiving go around and have everyone say something they are grateful for starting with whichever letter they get as you go around the table.
Crack Out the Photo Albums
What better way to remember the family times than to peruse old photo albums. Tell stories of the past and remember who you are as a family. Also, don’t forget to take pictures and record the day’s events for posterity.
Do an Activity Together
Prepare the dinner together or take a walk after the meal together. Partake in a community service event together such as making blessing bags for the homeless or preparing and serving a meal for those less fortunate at a local church or shelter.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself.
Holidays can be hectic and we can get caught up in the stress of all the work involved. Recruit help early and don’t let the work of the day be your burden to shoulder. Most people don’t mind helping, they just might need to be asked, so ask for help. Do your best to stay positive and in the moment so you too can enjoy the festivities.
Enjoy your holidays and traditions. Celebrate who your family is through the old and the new traditions!
Need Inner Calm? An Anxiety Buster? More Happiness?The Answer Lies in this Simple (but Powerful) Best Life Tool!
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
That’s the answer to combat stress and anxiety, boost your happiness factor, and bring so many other health benefits into your life. The field of positive psychology as well as other health professions such as nursing and medicine are showing the positive effects of gratitude on the body through study after study. These effects benefit all areas of your life - psychologically, physically, and socially. Here are a few examples:
1. Psychological benefits of gratitude
It doesn’t stop there, DreamChaser! Studies have shown that expressing gratitude helps you to deal with adversity as well as bounce back from these hard times with more strength and motivation. As if that wasn’t enough, and this is my favorite one, studies have shown that practicing gratitude every day helps create neural pathways to naturally and permanently make you feel grateful, more positive, and happier daily. These studies have shown that a daily gratitude practice was as effective in treating mild to moderate anxiety symptoms as taking a daily prescription medication. Whoa! Think about it this way…if your anxiety is affecting your life to the point you need an intervention, you could treat it by taking a daily pill OR practicing daily gratitude. Do not get me wrong, being a nurse practitioner, I wholeheartedly believe you should take medications for illnesses when needed. But, the data from these studies support that practicing gratitude is one of the simplest, most effective ways to boost your overall health and wellness.
Okay, cynics…I hear you out there saying, “It’s too good to be true”. Being a bit cynical myself, I present you with the evidence; the answer to how gratitude works. Gratitude affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for complex cognitive behaviors like focus, managing emotions, and predicting the consequences of one’s actions. Expressing and receiving gratitude stimulates the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, the two brain chemicals for emotions that result in an immediate positive boost in mood. It's like a calm button for the prefrontal cortex, making you feel happy from the inside-out. In case you missed this interesting point, you get the same effect from gratitude by expressing it or receiving it, meaning, telling someone you are grateful for them allows you AND them to benefit from the power of gratitude.
Convinced? I sure hope so, DreamChaser! Gratitude is one of the most powerful best life tools you absolutely must add to your Best Life Toolbox. Here’s how to do it:
Yeah, that’s it! In a matter of a few minutes, you have brought the healing and life-boosting benefits of gratitude into your life. Really want to benefit from gratitude? Here are a few more ideas:
All signs (and data…sorry, science nerd here) point to adding the powerful force of gratitude into your daily life. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is as perfect a time as any to start!
By Jackie White
Stop for a moment and think. Think about your life and what you deserve. Is there anything that you see that you don’t deserve? Do you feel unworthy of certain things or do you avoid going for certain dreams because you don’t deserve that level of possibility?
Maybe it’s not you. Maybe you know someone who puts themselves down or is constantly apologizing? Your teenage daughter might be fighting unworthiness big time in her own heart and soul.
All of these examples unfortunately are far too common in the American public. Unworthiness runs rampant, especially among women. The statistics are downright frightening. 66% of women feel they are worthless and useless while 70% of teen girls believe they are not good enough.
That is unacceptable.
We need to take back ourselves from ourselves! The seed of unworthiness can be planted by another but is fed by ourselves fixating on such a tragic belief. However, there is an opportunity for us to throw a wrench in this monkey mindset. Welcome to the season of giving and see how it can give back to you. During the holiday season, we are given opportunities to connect with others. There might be a family gathering or perhaps a Friendsgiving or an opportunity to volunteer to help another. You see there is no greater medicine for unworthiness than connection. Let me say that again, being connected to others makes you feel worthy. Connection feels like sunshine, it’s happy, joyful, and inclusive. Don’t mistake being with someone who is a downer as being connected to another, That is not it.
Why does connection seem to eliminate these feelings of unworthiness? It’s found in a chemical release in the brain. It is biologically impossible to feel critical of yourself and feel connected with another at the same time. The part of your brain that judges yourself is silenced by the part of the brain that allows closeness and connection. The connection response in your prefrontal cortex overrides other responses like judgment. Whoa! This is freaking amazing!
Now that you know this, you have a secret weapon to fight off your entirely too critical inner critic. This is an invitation to you to get involved this holiday season. Spend time with people you enjoy and that lift you up. Get connected in your community and do for others and the by-product of that is actually doing for yourself. Make this a habit and soon you will find that you are building yourself up and realizing just how special you are.
Give yourself a gift of elevating your soul by making an effort to connect with others this holiday season and beyond.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Confession time, DreamChaser. I rarely stress during the holidays. Now, before you start hating me or calling me a liar, hear me out. I made the decision back in graduate school, which was by far the busiest time of my adult life, that the holidays would be a time of enjoyment and not added stress. I started taking intentional steps to de-stress the holidays before they even started. Now, many years later, this intentional proactive holiday de-stress approach is just what I do.
Quiz time! What is it called when it’s just something you do? You got it…a habit! I have a well-established habit of setting my holiday season up to be stress-free and, therefore, completely enjoyable. Since sharing is caring, I am going to give you 5 steps to take now, right now in the beginning of November, that will start your holiday de-stressing process. Ready? I thought so!
1. Make A List…and Check It Twice
Rather than Santa’s gift list, I mean your personal holiday must-do list. Start with items that are already scheduled such as kid’s sporting events, holiday concerts, church programs, or work events. Next, add your expected holiday traditions such as family or friend get-togethers or annual cookie baking. Finally, brainstorm holiday traditions or events you want to do like watching a holiday movie (Elf or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, anyone?!?), seeing holiday lights, getting the Christmas tree, or decorating your house. The first time you write out this list, it is eye-opening! You can see very clearly why the holidays get stressful!
Look hard at this list. You might be taking on too much; to have the stress-free and enjoyable holiday of your dreams, you might need to cut a few items. Trust me, doing less can make your holidays better. Take all items that made the cut and rank them in priority from must-do to “if we have time”. Open the calendar app on your phone or take your paper calendar…it’s schedule time! This is the only way that any of these items will actually happen. Start by scheduling events with a known date, then, plan all the other holiday fun.
Pro Tips: Keep several days open! This allows for much-needed (and often forgotten) rest and relaxation time as well as flexibility to change your schedule around as needed. Another BIG de-stress tip is to start knocking things off that list now…who says Christmas movies are ONLY for December?!?
2. Set a Budget…and Stick To It
Having a holiday budget and STICKING TO IT is one of the best ways to de-stress during and after the holidays. Look at your anticipated expenses and estimated income. How much do you have left over at the end of the month? This, DreamChaser, is where your holiday budget is! If it is less than you expected or would like to spend, where can you tighten up on your spending? Can you start putting aside a certain amount from each paycheck? Once you know how much you have to spend, make a list of who you want to buy for with a set amount you would like to spend. Make a point to stick to your budget…trust me, this will be worth it!
3. Get Your Shop (and Wrap) On
The sooner you start, the sooner you are done…both shopping and wrapping. Once your budget is set, start shopping. There are already awesome deals available. As you get your gifts, wrap them right away (even if you don’t have a tree up yet). Getting a jump start on both of these tasks is huge for saving time, money, and stress. Just imagine how much more fun it will be to curl up with cocoa and a movie instead of fighting the holiday crowd come December 23!
4. Holiday Card Tips
Okay, if you don’t do holiday cards, skip this one and pat yourself on the back for all that time, effort, and energy you have saved. I, however, love to send and receive these babies…lol. A huge time saver is to make printable address labels; it’s a little time consuming the first time but it makes it so much easier in years to come. Order your cards early…as in right now, today, after you finish reading this. Not only will you knock out this huge project before the holidays really get rolling but you will also save money as many companies have big discounts for early shoppers.
Pro Tip: Who said it has to be a holiday card? Consider a New Year’s or Valentine’s Day card instead!
5. Set Your Boundaries
Your holidays are YOUR holidays. Before you commit to anything, remember the “Best Yes” idea. Is this something that will bring you joy or add stress to your holiday? What does your ideal holiday look like? What traditions do you love? Is it time to let some things go? Get a clear idea of what will make the holiday season stress-free, enjoyable, and memorable. Say yes to the things that make this vision happen and no to those that don’t. If this is your first time setting boundaries, it might be uncomfortable at first and you might experience push back. Stick to your guns, DreamChaser! Once a boundary is set, keep it. Guess what happens then? No one questions it in the future!
That’s it…my system for a stress-free, enjoyable holiday. Like all new things, it takes intention and determination the first time you do these steps. Trust me, you are about to experience a holiday like no other! Here’s to not only living your best life but also enjoying it!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.