Advice for Finding Balance with a Busy Lifestyle

Life update: I am literally living on cold coffee and protein bars and no longer know what sleep is... but it's going to be okay! Between being a business owner, full-time student, intern, blogger, dog mom, planning a wedding, and maintaining my partnerships, I feel slightly swamped sometimes. However, over the past year, I have discovered a concoction of habits that have helped me on my way that kept me strong and happy even when things get a little overwhelming. So many of us stretch ourselves way too thin until the point of total burnout. Oh, “burnout”. I hear that term thrown around all the time. But it’s a very real thing and is extraordinarily counter-productive to experience. Here are some of the self-discovered solutions that I have found that help me avoid burnout:

It is okay to say “no”. I want to start by talking about my favorite word of advice first because I struggled with this the most. For a lot of my life, even into adulthood, I have been a “yes man” type of gal. I don’t like to miss out on things. Despite the millions of things I have going on, with enough pressure, I always say yes to things even when I truly do not have time for them. This continued up until I experienced burnout (a very aggressive and degrading form of burnout) and my anxiety came back in full attack last year.

With a little bit of help from some trusted life mentors, I quickly realized that I was over-committing my time… a trap that many of us get stuck in. I learned from this experience that it is so okay to say no when you are really just too busy. It’s even okay to say no even when you simply don’t want to. Even being the social butterfly that I am, sometimes I just need a Friday night at home by myself with a cup of tea and “Friends” streaming on Netflix for hours on end while I work on my website or study for a test I have coming up. It takes practice, but learning to say “no”, especially when you struggle with it, can be the most liberating things a person can experience. And trust me, your true friends are not going anywhere. Losing friends was always my biggest fear and sure enough I did lose friends. But to be very honest, that was not such a bad thing because I discovered the people who were really there for me. Anyone worth keeping in your life will understand why you’re saying no and don’t need an explanation for it.

Be wary of alcohol consumption. We’ve all said it after a long, excruciating day. The infamous phrase of any emotionally drained adult just trying to survive this world. “I need a drink”. And I’m not talking about an innocent skinny extra espresso venti no ice latte. Oh no, I’m talking cocktails, wine, beer, and my fiancé’s favorite- bourbon. (I’ll stick with a Chardonnay, please).

There is a totally evil alter-ego of alcohol though. Like so many of you, I have witnessed alcoholic behavior in those I love one too many times in my life and know firsthand the effects and the damage associated with alcohol abuse. Call me a prude, but I believe that we innocently contribute to a much bigger problem when we rely on alcohol to make us feel better after a long day. Let me explain…

Ironically, we say that we use alcohol to calm down, when it very well be doing exactly the opposite. Alcohol is not only a depressant, it also actually raised your cortisol levels which contributes to anxiety and panic in stressful situations. I could probably write 500 blog posts on how understanding this concept has completely changed my life and how I view alcohol consumption now. I typically do not drink during the week and try to remain conscious of alcohol consumption on the weekends. If I have a lot going on, you probably won’t catch me drinking at all even on the weekend. It contributes to my stress rather than helping and I end up becoming so anxious about the things I need to do that I end up not getting anything done. I’m not saying cut out alcohol completely (I love wine too much), just be conscious of the reason you are drinking and avoid drinking when you are overwhelmed. There are so many other things you can do to replace your tendency to run to the bottle. Another blog post for another day on this, perhaps?

Exercise often and eat well. Even with my agenda going up in flames with all the things I have going on, I always prioritize exercise. Sometimes, my workouts are a quick 30 minute YouTube video in my apartment living room. Often, I’ll go to the gym for about 45 minutes and get a quick run in with some leg and ab exercises. Regardless, working out is a priority. I’ve found that I am actually more productive and creative when I set aside time to get some activity in.

I would also suggest eating clean. Fresh veggies, chicken, and fruit are my absolute staple foods and I feel amazing when I stick with it. I am more productive, happier, and have found that when in the periods that I focus on what I eat, I experience a higher level of success in general. Food is your fuel for life. If you are not properly fueling your body, it is one million times more likely to burn out on the side of the road (it’s scientific- one million ya’ll).

Meditate. And hippie Ariel is back in action. I’m not joking though- I am a HUGE advocate for meditating for at least 10 minutes a day in order to gather your thoughts. If you don’t quite have this one nailed down yet, there are tons of podcasts, YouTube videos, and subscription services out there to help you along the way. It is so important to learn the art of shutting your mind down and finding stability in the present moment. Arguably, it can completely change your whole day. That’s why I usually partake in this activity early in the morning before I even start my day.

Find a community. This is so very important to me. I crave to be around people. I’m probably the ultimate extravert. Not the loud, super-outgoing kind that society advertises. Just the kind that gets extreme spurts of energy and creativity when I am around other positive people. With that said, I like to be around people that I can study with or work with too. If you are doing the work you love and have friends that are doing work that they love, why not get together and work and talk about the things you love? You’ve developed a sense of community around your work and are also keeping productive. Friendship is essential and sometimes we just need someone there even if we don’t talk about anything. Sometime I just like having friend or two present while we either study or work on business. Plus, it doesn’t feel like work when you’re enjoying it with friends!

These are all the main milestones I’ve experience in the past year or so with the increased activity in my hectic schedule. Truly, these ideas are kind of my life-line to surviving being a full-time student, business owner, intern, dog mom, fiancé, blogger, influence, etc. I certainly do hope this helps!

(P.S. all of these pictures were taken on the Google Pixel 2 courtesy of Dylon's acquired photography skills)

- Ariel ♡

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