I’m not going to talk about mountain hiking here, although that’s one of my ways to relieve stress and reclaim inner balance every day. Mountain hiking gives me strength. However, what if you can’t go to the mountains? How do you deal with everyday life? What should you do when problems start piling up? Is there even such a thing as ‘work-life balance’? Or maybe it’s just ‘life balance’? After all, work is not separate from our lives—it’s a part of who we are.
Full disclosure: I’m not a psychologist or therapist. I just like to discover new theories, new ways for better living. :-) Therefore I get information from a variety of sources, I experiment with them and choose my own path. During my last workshop, I came across a leaflet about “The 8 O’s”, a program about managing your energy in stressful situations, created by Wojciech Eichelberger, a Polish psychologist. Coincidence? I believe everything happens for a reason. Moreover, this approach helped me understand what directly affects stress levels and how I can deal with stress at any time, in any situation. How you can build your own work-life balance.
B for Breathing (“O jak Oddychanie” in Polish)
Sounds too obvious, right? Corny, even. But this actually has a huge impact on our state of mind. Sometimes, all you need to do is take a few deep breaths and you’ll notice an immediate improvement. Don’t forget to engage your diaphragm—after all, it’s our main respiratory muscle and it’s responsible for changing the shape and size of our lungs. Whenever you find yourself feeling stressed or tired, stop and take a deep breath (or several deep breaths). It definitely won’t hurt.
Important: remember to breathe slowly.
N for Nutrition (“O jak Odżywianie” in Polish)
Not exactly a ground-breaking concept, but so often overlooked in our daily lives. It’s not just about what we eat, but also how we eat—what rhythm we use and where we have our meals. Do you sometimes cram down a sandwich in a rush, standing up, or staring at your screen? I do that myself, unfortunately. Don’t forget that nutrition includes water. Our bodies need water regularly and in pretty large amounts. Don’t make any excuses like “I don’t have time for that”. Take 5 minutes off, sit down and eat. It’s also a good idea to always keep a water bottle handy. Glass bottles are best.
R for Release (“O jak Odreagowanie” in Polish)
We are constantly bombarded with messages urging us to be physically active: “be active”, “move around”, “work out”. Fitness clubs keep plastering their advertisements depicting perfectly toned bodies everywhere. But is it really what we need? Don’t get me wrong: physical activity does help you release stress and negative emotions. However you should also choose an activity that suits your abilities and brings you joy. Therefore some people prefer hiking in the woods, climbing mountains, swimming in seas, just enjoying the outdoors. Others love playing squash or racketlon, and some others find joy in gardening, even if their garden is actually a balcony. You should choose your own path. Remember that engaging with nature and spending time outside is very important.
Oh, one more thing. Did you know that shouting and singing out loud is also a way to “vent”? I’m not telling you to yell at your loved ones. However, it might be a good idea to just scream at the top of your lungs once in a while—just for the sake of it, at the world at large. You could drive to a remote bridge or a large, open field, and scream your heart out—or just crank up the volume in your car and sing along to your favourite song. Be like Liza Minelli in Cabaret! :)
R for Rest (“O jak Odpoczynek” in Polish)
We all need to rest. Especially your brain. It needs time to “reboot”. My Chinese doctor always says this: “Don’t be like a rabbit. Don’t react to each tiny stimulus”. Dedicate 10 minutes every 2–3 hours to rest and relax. In addition, let yourself fall into deep sleep. Try to create the perfect conditions before you go to bed. Put your phone away, light a candle, put on some relaxing music and calm down. Focus your energy. Respect it. Choose the things you find most relaxing.
P for Presence (“O jak Obecność” in Polish)
Be in the here and now. Notice how the word “present” can mean both “the period that is happening now” and “a gift”. You should treat every day as a gift. Here and now. Let the past remain in your memories. What about the future? The future will just come on its own.
S for Support (“O jak Oparcie” in Polish)
We all have inner strength. It’s not just a platitude, it’s the truth. I know what I’m talking about—I have found my inner strength many times in the past. Remember to take care of yourself, stand firm on your own feet. Who better to notice red flags than you? Be observant and open to yourself. What is more, this might make me sound a little crazy, but for some time now, I have been starting each day off by looking at myself in the mirror and saying: “Hey! Today’s going to be a good day”.
L for Letting Go (“O jak Odpuszczanie” in Polish)
Probably one of the hardest challenges in the world. I still have a lot to do here. So far, I’ve realised that I simply cannot control everything. And if I can’t control something, why should I waste my energy on it? I encourage you (and myself) to ask yourself: “Do I have control over this?”. If the answer is no, you have to silence your inner warrior by saying: “Don’t! Just let it go”.
And finally: T for Taking Care Of Yourself (“O jak Opiekowanie się sobą” in Polish)
Taking care of yourself is not just staying healthy and well-rested. Those are just two pieces of a large puzzle. Take care of your body, emotions, relationships, intellectual and spiritual development. Take care of yourself. It’s as simple as that, and it’s plenty enough.
My list, my work-life balance
So that’s it—my own interpretation of Wojciech Eichelberger’s “The 8 O’s”. Like a cover song. This is my take on his ideas and my methods for applying them in my life. In some areas, I’m still at the beginning of my journey. In other areas, I’m slowly becoming a master. What is more, I realise that it’s a constant endeavour to improve my life—bit by bit, day by day. It's my work-life balance.
Some of these are constant, others evolve, some get replaced. It keeps evolving, like all things in life.
Mirror: “Good morning, Klaudia!” :-)
Mountains — from my beloved Karkonosze to the awe-inspiring Andes
Acting silly — I pretend to be a chimp or just dance around
Books — about mountain expeditions and great mountaineers, about people and their thoughts and feelings, about spiritual transformations, criminal stories, biographies, articles, etc.
Movies — screenings with my favourite neighbour. We pick movies we’ll be able to discuss afterwards. Netflix is also cool.
Inspirations Festival, workshops, training courses, interesting brand news — I firmly believe that you learn your whole life. There is so much you can find on the Internet.
Freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice, and recently also all kinds of pickled food
The art of letting go — if I can’t control something. Therefore, I repeat the phrase “Let it go” in my mind. The world won’t end.
Nature — when I’m on a trail, when I embrace a tree, when I listen to the quiet murmur of a stream, when I sit down on a rock to eat a sandwich and drink some tea from my thermos flask, sometimes when I open my window and listen to the birds singing—in short: when I become one with nature.