By Dani McDonnell, KEASE Associate & Coach

We’ve all heard the term ‘work/life balance’ and, until recently, have no doubt tried to be mindful of this when navigating our lives. But now, more so than any other time in our history, this concept is being tested.

Firstly, many are no longer employed.  For those who still are, you may now be on reduced hours and income, and possibly being challenged by a totally new way of working.  Unemployment, reduction in income, and working from home makes it even harder to distinguish between work & life, let alone keeping it all balanced.  

The normal way of doing things has been tossed up in the air, and we’ve had to reassess our patterns of behaviour.  What may have been a well-honed routine, has quickly become the old way, and with things continuing to change every day, routines have gone out the window.  And just when we think we’ve got it sorted, another directive, or rule or consideration turns it all on its proverbial head.  We’ve had no option but to become reactive, rather than proactive, and for many people, that’s a scary place to be.

And that’s just the doing stuff.  What about the ‘feeling’ stuff?  In addition to the myriad of thoughts and feelings that we deal with during normal times, many very new, unusual and frightening ones are also flooding in, and it’s no surprise that we’re finding it difficult to cope. As such, it is absolutely not surprising that the changes and upheaval of our present, and the absolute uncertainty of our future, have many people fearful that they are actually ‘losing their minds’. 

So how can we redefine balance, and embrace it as part of who we need to become moving forward.  Easier said than done; human beings are creatures of habit.  Our brains like certainty and pre-established routines, so change is not something we naturally embrace. 

However, given that we’ve had no choice to adjust in a physical sense since Covid-19 paid us a visit, maybe it’s timely that we consider ways in which we can alter our mental processes and capacity as well.

  • We need to acknowledge that it is ok not to be ok. We put so much pressure on ourselves to cope, but in reality, now is not a time to be worrying about the small stuff.
  • We need to become better communicators; we have to be able to speak our truth so as to set realistic expectations as to what we’re actually capable of right now.
  • And we need to be ourselves. We all have our own story, and none of us are experiencing this new reality in the same way.   
  • As humans we have a tendency to catastrophise (it’s in our DNA), but it’s important to take stock and be aware of what is actually within our sphere of control.
  • And most importantly, we need to become more aware of what makes us feel good. Yes, we should be keeping active, eating well, trying to get enough sleep, and trying not to drink too much, but it’s vital that we create an environment that will provide us with a greater mental balance.

In essence, we need to train our brains to be open to new ways of thinking and accepting new habits, and to practice them so they become the new routine, and ultimately the norm.