By Meryl Davids Landau
When you were in your 20s and 30s, you probably ignored random aches or other minor physical annoyances, and they usually went away. But now those symptoms can come back — often with a different cause, and calling for more serious attention.
"A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They're afraid it may happen to them, so they're putting in more hours," says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.
"But even if you don't have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life?" Brooks says. "Focus your time and attention on things you can control."
Here are five ways to bring a little more balance to your daily routine:
1. Build downtime into your schedule.
When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge.
If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you'll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don't have to cancel.
"It helps to be proactive about scheduling," says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. "When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls' night out on the calendar for 1 month later."
Stack also plans an activity with her family, like going to a movie or the park, every Sunday afternoon. "We do this because if there's nothing on the schedule, time tends to get frittered away and the weekend may end without us spending quality time together," she says.
Michael Neithardt, an actor and television commercial producer in New York City, wakes up 3 hours before he has to leave for work so he can go for a run and spend some time with his wife and baby.
"A lot of my friends tend to wake up, shower, and go straight to work. And they often complain about having no time to do anything," he says. "I find that if I can get those 3 hours in the morning, I have a more productive and peaceful workday. I can sure tell the difference when I don't."