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How Can I Maintain Life Balance?

Balancing stones of life

By Elizabeth Valenti, PhD
Faculty, College of Humanities and Social Sciences   

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” (Thomas Merton)

The desire to prosper and experience positive well-being is the primary reason most embark on their educational and occupational journeys; yet, many have never mastered the art of life balance.

Research consistently shows that those who are overworked and heavily enmeshed with their jobs or schooling (otherwise deemed “unbalanced”) are more likely to experience symptoms of stress and burnout, suffer more health issues and experience more social problems.

Unfortunately, I’ve been there. Considering the constant bombardment of technology, academic tasks and myriad of life events, finding balance is a skill that must be mastered. Heck, I’m still learning to master it!

Here is a set of practical recommendations to set you up for success:

Get Organized

Begin scheduling all of your important tasks and activities so they will not only be remembered, but also prioritized. Planning eliminates any guess work and allows us to schedule other activities/events around important deadlines (e.g. tests, papers). It also keeps us organized in terms of studying and creates some “downtown” planning. I prefer the “month at a glance” planner, which provides a comprehensive visual glance of that month.

Reduce Distractions

Let’s face it: We’re constantly bombarded with distractions.

While mindless activities can be beneficial, how much time are you really wasting? Begin by tracking everything you do in a typical day to assess time leakages. Unless it’s being used to produce, take steps to decrease some of your distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media.

It’s also helpful to rethink errands so time is not wasted driving around. I’ve found that dedicating just a few minutes each day to designing my day has been quite helpful.

Learning to eliminate energy-sapping activities (and people) is a must. Ask yourself, “Does endlessly surfing Facebook or binge-watching the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ really add value to my life?”

If not, chop it – well, at least some of it.

Learn How to Say No

Learning how to say “no” is extremely difficult for those who are used to pleasing others. I’ve found that being honest about one’s limits can really circumvent some of this stress. Begin communicating how important of a priority school is, which means study time and rest cannot be sacrificed. Those who love and care about you will respect this goal and support your journey.

Easier said than done? Maybe, but try it. While change can be uncomfortable, it definitely produces results.

To conclude, I’ve had several life regrets, none of them being time spent on important goals.  I have, however, regretted spreading myself too thinly and sacrificing my well-being and health.

Now let’s prioritize THAT!

Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences allows students to grow and learn in their field. To learn more about GCU’s programs, visit our website or request more information by using the button at the top of the page.

About Elizabeth Valenti, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Valenti headshot
Faculty, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Originally from Oak Park, Ill., Elizabeth Valenti escaped the unsympathetic winters and relocated to Arizona in the 1990s. Several family members have since followed! She is a huge animal lover and has been a vegetarian since the age of five when she learned what a Big Mac really was (her parents had no influence). She values compassion for humans, animals and the environment, supporting several organizations that uphold this mission (e.g. Humane Society, Animal Welfare League and the Human Rights Campaign). Dr. Valenti regularly volunteers at local no-kill animal shelters. She plays the piano by ear, speaks a little bit of German, enjoys documentaries of all sorts and is addicted to the outdoors. She loves to travel and garden, and is an avid hiker!

Read more about Elizabeth Valenti.