What comes to mind when you think about summer?
Perhaps relaxing at the beach, taking leisurely walks, or socializing at backyard BBQs? How about a beautiful sunny day spending vacation time with family and friends at the cabin, on the lake, or a special getaway spot…Maybe a summer beverage or ice cream treat in hand?
While this sounds lovely, what is your reality is something more like this:
Working and/ or going to school full-time, having a booked social calendar filled with “obligations”, trying to get caught up with a never-ending to-do list while trying to juggle the on-going demands of multiple schedules… all before the fall when things REALLY start to get busy!
While I work hard to prioritize self-care and work-life balance, I can relate to the second scenario. In fact, I would consider myself quite skilled at this point in learning how to juggle multiple demands that I wanted to share with you several strategies that I have found to be the most helpful.
1. Plan ahead as much as possible to reduce stress. This includes writing down important dates such as class schedules, meetings, and important deadlines. While I like to think about possible big events around the start of a new year such as planning/ saving for big events, breaking planning into 3-month, monthly, weekly, and daily chunks me helps track to manage my time.
2. Set realistic expectations. Knowing how much time is in a day, it is important to set realistic expectations. No one can do it all. Being realistic is so important that it is built into SMART goal setting.
3. Balance the ratio with commitments and flexibility. The problem of over-booking is so common that many people found relief that it was OK to let go of some things and slow down during quarantine. This includes family commitments. Imagine adding in children with multiple school schedules, sports practices, extracurricular activities, camp schedules, and additional social activities. For each “yes” that you are committing to, this often adds to a “no” in the ability to be flexible for things such as down time or spontaneous enjoyable activities.
4. Learn how to say yes to yourself. Oftentimes, we say yes to others but then overlook ourselves. Learning how to say no to others is a necessary practice of establishing healthy boundaries. Learning to use assertive communication can help one feel empowered to take care of their own needs. If this is an area of struggle, therapy can be helpful to work on assertive communication and interpersonal boundaries.
5. Prioritize. After identifying what areas are considered essential, begin to think about the level of priority for the others. While it may seem like multiple items may be a priority, remember the need to set realistic expectations. Choice is helpful, especially for children such as offering one option or the other (e.g. either swimming lessons or soccer lessons). When the activity ends, a new choice can be made.
6. Enlist help from supports. Transportation, childcare, and financial barriers are real. Get creative to figure out what works best for you or your family and don’t be afraid to ask for help. One creative solution utilized as a grad student and mother was to swap childcare for study time one day a week with another parent and student. It was a win-win solution. If you have children, help foster independence through teaching responsibility. Even young children can assist with simple household tasks such as setting the table. If you live with a partner or roommates, share the load of responsibilities.
7. Manage stress. Know your warning signs and personal limits. For me, the sign of a headache is a signal of too much mental activity and muscle tension as a stress response. Listen to what your body is communicating to you and respond. It could be a simple as getting up to do some stretches, taking a break, or a nice relaxing sock in a hot bath. A positive attitude and relaxed body are so important.
To schedule an appointment with one of our professional counselors, click here.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
We’re Here to help
Our wellness experts will be happy to take care of you. You can CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment now or call (612)223-8898.
The professionals at CARE are actively collecting and creating resources to help with what you need. We’re Here for You.