Spring clean your work & life balance

April brings the start of Spring (despite the weather!), and it's time to take a few cues from nature. Signs of new beginnings are everywhere, so let's look at how we can freshen up and make a new start with our approach to work/life balance. All of you will be juggling different aspects of life: perhaps your parents, caring for elderly relatives, pursuing a particular life goal or making your way up the career ladder. Whatever your focus, it goes without saying that sometimes it seems as if there just aren't enough hours in the day. You stay at work late, cancel social engagements and stay up way past your bedtime, just trying to get everything done. This approach might be fine in the short-term. Perhaps you'll even feel like you're finally getting somewhere, ticking things off that to-do list and making great progress. But the sense of panic builds up, you feel out of touch with friends and family, and it's been ages since you've felt really relaxed. How can you combine being a busy, successful, goal-oriented person with being happy and healthy? Here are ten top tips to kick-start your emotional spring clean. 1. Learn to say "no". Your time and your emotional health are precious. Decide what needs to be done, and what can be delegated or ignored. You don't have to do it all. 2. Prioritise. Work out what needs to be done each day, and then select the thing which needs to take priority, come what may. 3. Do one thing, first thing. Everyone has at least one minute to spare at the very start of the day. Use this to get something done, even if it's a small chore like finding your cheque book or putting laundry on to wash. 4. Identify those niggling things You want to do, but never seem to get round to doing. Then do them first, before the things you always manage to get done. You'll feel so much better. 5. Get outside. If you have a dog, walk him. If you have kids, take them to a local park or play area. And look up: the act of looking upwards at the sky (even on a cloudy day) lifts the spirits. 6 Take time for yourself. You probably give a lot - to your children, family, parents, friends and colleagues - and look after people. Who is looking after you? Make sure you take time for yourself, every single day. You are your most important person. 7. Have fun! When was the last time you did something spontaneous, indulgent, even a little bit crazy? It doesn't have to be expensive or take very long. But treat yourself to a thrill, an adventure or a retreat, and do it regularly. 8. Set goals, and work towards them. Everyone has something they want to achieve in life, even if it's been buried deep over the years. Might now be the time to unearth that dream? If the time's right, start planning, and then start taking steps towards your success. You deserve to achieve your dreams. 9. Dedicate yourself to unwinding. The simple act of going to bed a little earlier than usual - and making this a consistent habit - will transform your mood and energy levels. Turn off electronic gadgets and the TV at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. 10 End the day on a positive note. Do something for you, whether it's relaxing in the bath, talking to a friend on the phone or writing something positive about the day in a journal. Here's to a great work/life balance!

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