Maintaining a healthy work-life balance became especially challenging during the decade when I worked as a nurse caring for kids with cancer. I inevitably became attached to many of these kids and cried right along with the families when the child didn't make it.
I quickly learned that the only way I would be able to continue working with these children, without burning myself out, would be to develop some strategies for a healthy work-life balance. I tried a variety of methods and I eventually found easy ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance, other than the usual diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep advice.
Monitor What You Watch
I stopped watching depressing shows and movies, and at one point I stopped watching the news. My friends would laugh at me because I refused to watch anything that had a sad ending. If I wanted to be sad, there was plenty of sadness at work. There was no need for me to be sad at work and outside of work also. When I watch something, I stick to comedies and anything that has a happy ending. When I need a quick, positive break I watch a favorite movie or TV show.
There are studies that support that laughter helps keep you healthy. When I worked with the kids with cancer, I would go out of my way to be silly with them. When they laughed, I laughed, and we both felt better.
I still go out of my way to help people laugh. If you need a quick laughter boost, here are some things that have worked for me:
Get together with someone who has young children and do something to make them laugh. The sillier you are, the sooner they (and you) will be laughing.
Call friends or family members who always make you laugh.
Do an online search for funny videos and pictures.
Maintain Positive Relationships
Fortunately for me, I come from a family that loves to laugh. If you were able to spend some time with us you would quickly see that we will laugh at you, with you, and at ourselves. We share funny pictures, stories, and anything that we know will make each other laugh. We know all of each other's most embarrassing stories and we are happy to tell them. I also have some close friends who love to laugh. I make sure I keep in touch with these invaluable family members and friends via phone or email several times a week.
Journaling is an easy way to help you deal with tough situations, and to help you remember great times. It is a quick way to help you cope with life's problems. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, just sit down and start writing. You'll soon feel better. Often, when things weren't going the way I hoped they would go, I'd sit down for a few minutes and write about what was happening. When kids I was particularly close to passed away, I would write down my favorite memories of them so that I would remember the great times we had together.
I still jot down funny or touching stories about family, friends, and even strangers, so that I have something to remind me of better times when I'm having a rough day.
At one point, I was working three jobs while going to school. This left little time for family, fun, or sleep. I finally realized that I needed to make some time for myself. I started by just sitting for a few minutes and focusing on relaxing pictures, doing deep breathing exercises, or sitting quietly. Quieting my thoughts helped me quickly refocus. Those few minutes made all the difference in the world. I made it my goal to have quiet time several days a week, and I still do this today.
I keep an updated list of goals and I make sure that my work and life goals are balanced. Studies have shown that people who have written goals often achieve them. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important to living a rich, meaningful life.