Time to hold my hands up and admit that ever since I started working, I have never been very good at prioritising myself. You see I’m a people pleaser; if I don’t put others first I feel as though I’m letting them down, I struggle to create boundaries and to say no and I have a deep fear of not being liked by others. However, over the last 12-18 months, I have been learning how to prioritise my own needs and improve my work-life balance.

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Balance is described as ‘a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions’ and when I started my wellbeing journey at the start of 2021, I spent some time looking at how I could start to prioritise myself in different areas of my life in order to achieve those correct proportions. I looked at my physical and mental state, my home life, my social life, my relationships, my career, my prospects and how I was spending my free time and I made some big changes as a result.

I wanted to worry less about work.

I wanted to feel more in control of my destiny.

I wanted to spend more time ‘off the grid’.

I wanted to have more quality time with my family.

I wanted to challenge myself regularly.

I wanted to have more downtime.

Here are some of the changes I embraced, and how it’s help improve your work-life balance, in the hope that you might be able to embrace them too.

I learnt how to switch off

… we all need to make time to switch off properly every now and then. Without taking time out, how can we expect to be the most creative and productive versions of ourselves?

At the end of the day, life is here to be enjoyed, but in the past, I have been guilty of working myself into the ground. In December last year, I took my first two week holiday from work where I had no plans to go away – instead, I used it to focus on slowing down.

The old me would have felt guilty at not putting my time off to better use (aka going away, being busy adventuring every day etc.), but the new me knew that this time switched off was needed and at the end of those few weeks off, I felt motivated and creative again and ready to pursue my dreams than ever before.

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This year I have continued to spend time fully switched off – opting for breaks in the dales where there is no such thing as phone signal over city breaks, spending my evenings curled up on the sofa with my latest craft project as opposed to on my phone and long weekends in the sun reading instead of spending my energy on fruitless projects.

I invested in myself

… and what an investment it has been! I’ve always been the type of person that craves guidance when it comes to decision making, I lack confidence in my own intuition and really value the opinions of others.

Ever since I won the #BloggersBlogAward for Best Fitness Blog in 2017, I have known that I wanted to grow my blog. I just didn’t know what. Back then though I was ‘brainwashed’ by a peer into believing that my energy would be better spent on my career, that I wasn’t worthy (or capable) of creating something bigger for myself and if I’m honest I don’t think I was ready to either.

But then when I started to address my life balance I realised that one area my life really lacked in was self-development and so I started to enrol in courses on wellbeing and mindfulness to expand my horizons, I opted to read self-help books over my usual dreamy fiction and listened to podcasts that appealed to my desire to grow.

Choosing to invest in myself (and what is now my business) was scary, especially when I committed to my Advanced Diploma in Personal Training this year (something that I had dreamed of for years but never believed I could do). I could (and still can) think of tonnes of other things that I could have spent that money on, but now that I have passed my first module I know that it was the right thing to do!

I let go of guilt

… because I realised that a lot of the things I wanted less of in my life (like stress and anxiety for example) were only present because of guilt.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’m a people pleaser. When I would think about work I would feel worried and anxious about whether I should put more hours in in order to be viewed as more successful or in order to be more ‘popular’ with my peers. When in fact I was already working an extra 10 – 14 hours a week in order to meet deadlines as opposed to asking for help.

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Rejecting that mentality that I needed to work harder and not smarter, has been one of the biggest game-changers for me in. Because when you’re not constantly feeling guilty about that email you left in your inbox, you free up so much time and energy for the things that are important to you.

The saying goes that ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, and it so true – because when you’re spending your energy on things that drain you, you’ll never find the things that replenish you.

By choosing to improve your work-life balance, I have been able to be more present in my life and now I want to help you do the same by sharing with you one of my favourite wellbeing exercises that helps you to visualise your life balance and determine your priorities.