When talking with clients, we often end up discussing whether they feel that their lives are in-balance or out of control. Like many Americans nowadays, some of my clients feel frazzled. They feel controlled by their schedules and the never ending demands of life. We all want the highest quality of life possible, however sometimes we have difficulty seeing our own lives with the correct perspective. Counseling can be helpful to get a different viewpoint. Getting an unbiased opinion can shed light into areas that otherwise might stay stuck in the same old rut year after year.
One helpful tool that I use with clients is to look at their lives from a pie-chart perspective. By this I mean that there are several core items that should be within every balanced life. If these core components are out of proportion or non-existent, then a life will be less than desirable.
The core areas are:
1) Work or volunteering
2) Spiritual growth
3) Physical health (healthy eating habits and exercise)
4) Same-sex friendships
5) Romantic relationship if married or dating
6) Parenting if applicable
7) Other relationships such as extended family
Many people who feel chronically stressed do so because their life pie-chart is out of balance. I often see people with a large pie chart section for work, marriage and parenting. But they have very few friends; hobbies and spiritual growth are often non-existent. This way of living can only last for a short time before a person burns out emotionally, if not physically as well.
An unbalanced life can begin to feel like the main character in the movie “Groundhog Day.” The main character kept repeating the same day over and over. Many people share that they feel the same way. Work, home, work, home, work, home…that really isn’t enough for a high quality life.
Take a look at your own schedule. Yes, we have to earn a living. Yes, we want to spend time with our spouse and children. But we also need time with our friends, engaged in a hobby we enjoy and most of all, growing in our walk with God.
Make sure that each of these areas are represented in your life, even if only in a small proportion to start. If you find it difficult to get the areas listed above into your schedule, it might be time to spend a few sessions with a counselor working through your specific barriers to a balanced life.