Managing Your Many Roles in Life
Finding the strategies that work best for you and your lifestyle offers a great return on your investment.
Do you sometimes wish there were four of you in order to handle all the roles you take on? From partner to parent, to co-worker and to friend, to caregiver, teacher, and volunteer, we constantly juggle dynamic, multi-hyphenate roles we play in our communities. There will be periods where everything rolls along quite smoothly. And others, not so much. The latter can make daily life seem daunting to navigate at times. However, developing different strategies to best manage not only our time but our overall health and well-being in these various roles requires rapt attention.
Add the ongoing concern of a global pandemic that causes shifts in how we interact with each other, and you have a formula for increased behavioral health issues.
According to the CDC and National Institutes for Health, there has been a notable increase in adult behavioral health issues such as anxiety and depression since the pandemic. Evidence-based practices such as self-care techniques, spending regular time outdoors, de-plugging from electronics, and setting boundaries for oneself positively support better health.
Here are four simple ideas and strategies to keep in mind:
Set Clear Boundaries
Be upfront with your friends and family about what you can and cannot do. Set realistic expectations daily. None of us are superhuman, and when we over-schedule and stretch the limits of our capabilities, the stress piles up. Often it is simply a matter of taking time to say out loud what will best support you. For example, “I’ve got a really busy day today. Who can help out?” Building the spirit of teamwork in the house and beyond sets expectations with clear limits.
MIT professor Sherry Turkle has authored numerous books and research on the negative impact of technology on our lives. The quickest and easiest way to reverse this is to put down our devices and engage with our family and community. Her research also shows that turning our devices off hours before bedtime and darkening the room can assist in developing better sleep patterns, which leads to lowering our cortisol, and ultimately reducing stress—a great tactic when wearing multiple hats.
While a broad term, taking time for yourself is the essence of self-care and effective life management. It's also a form of self-respect that may take time for some to action. But incorporating self-care practices with regularity builds confidence. We recommend the simple approach. Start with breathwork. Take time to breathe, sit quietly, and participate in meditation or other self-reflection practices. When managing different, diverse roles in life, it can be easy to forgo oneself and become absorbed in the lives around you.
Get Outdoors Often
Strong evidence supports the healing qualities of spending time in nature. Creating regular patterns of activity in the outdoors is beneficial from a physical activity standpoint but also from a mental nourishment standpoint. Research at Cornell University found that as little as 10 minutes a day outdoors can lower stress levels. So much of our life is tied to an electronic device; reaping the benefits of the great outdoors is pivotal to living a healthier and more vibrant life.
This article was originally published on December 29, 2020, and has been updated as of the above date.