A few years back when I initially arrived in D.C., I was enrolled in the Washington Center academic internship program. One of the seminars I remember, which was highly recommended, had to deal with the topic of, “life balance.” Initially, I laughed at this seminar and said to myself, “how can one not have a life balance, this is silly.” However, remembering this seminar, I can say, “that seminar was one of the most influential sessions I attended.”
Life balance is something individuals tend to overlook. It’s a topic usually left as an afterthought. However, life balance is something that is critical to determine during an internship. Reflecting on your perception of life balance one might say, “I am going to wake up early, go to work, come home and eat, and unwind.” This is all part of the life balance and also your routine that you want to adhere to. However, your perception and what realistically occurs is something usually immensely different. In my experiences, especially in this internship I am in right now, I believe I have lost my sense of routine and life balance. In fact, my time management is thrown off. Guess I should take my own advice first before writing about it first? Let’s continue and actually define life balance.
What is life balance exactly? From educational experience, schools do not typically have a class or a seminar dedicated to the topic of life balance since it is so subjective. Life balance basically in a nutshell is how you balance your personal life- hobbies, family, social life- with work or school life. In addition, life balance includes exercise, sleeping, and eating. Once you figure out time management, you can figure out what life balance works best for you. Remember, it is different for everyone else, so do not go copy what your parents or friends do. Let give you a personal experience.
Here is a peak into my schedule. I wake up early, around 6 am; get ready and have over an hour commute one way from Maryland to D.C. Then, I perform my duties at work and then leave typically around 5 pm. Next, I ride the Metro trains back to Maryland and arrive around 6:15 pm in the vicinity of where I live. However, usually there is always something I have to do when I arrive back in Maryland; grocery shopping, errands, or attend free events if I want to continue to network. On average, I get home around 8:30-9:00 pm most days. Most times I have not eaten yet, so I have to cook and then eat. By time I am all settled down, it’s around 10 pm and I can finally sit down, Skype with my significant other or chat with my parents. About an hour or so of so called relaxing, I have to go to bed and do it all over again the next day. Thank god weekends are different, but yet still working at my part time job.
Where is my chance to exercise or to even enjoy reading a book? I can honestly say this routine is unhealthy for your body and mind. In fact, I feel that this life style is taking a toll on my life; stress, average 5-6 hours of sleep, and losing my abilities to perform at work optimally. Here some things I should take into consideration and as well as yourself.
- Exercise regularly. I do not mean pump iron for an hour a day to get a six pack. What I recommend is, walk to your Metro station or walk up the stairs instead of using the escalator at your job or metro stations. This will get your blood pumping and also keep you better shape than not performing any exercise at all.
- Try to eat meals that have a balanced nutritional value. Yes, eat your broccoli, but you also can get Kale or Spinach too. However, I highly recommend you should lay off those shrimp flavored ramen noodles; instead eat a small salad for lunch or a cold cut/ tuna sandwich. For dinner, eat some pasta with some sauce which should include vegetables. Macaroni & cheese is good but not every day.
- Do something you like to do after you get at home from work for 10-15 minutes to just clear your mind. This even means lying down and relaxing.
- Stretching exercises are good from a long day of sitting. Do these when you get home or even during the day while at the office.
- Last but not least, have fun and try not to over work yourself.
Of course, you can add or remove anything from this list. Currently, this is the best advice I can give. Fortunately, for myself, I know what I am doing wrong and what I am doing right. It is a challenge to readjust your whole life for 10-12 weeks, but what you will not realize, initially, is at your permanent address you do have life balance. I know when I am not in D.C.; I do have a better sense of life balance and time management.