The Mindful Life™ Blog

3 Strategies to Integrate Work Life Balance: Dr. Rick Hanson

about mindfulness Mar 12, 2024

In my recent interview with Dr. Rick Hanson, we discussed a variety of topics, one of them being this notion of work-life balance.

This topic comes up quite often when I am working with business professionals, teachers and parents. Dr. Hanson defines a good work-life balance as the ability to feel fulfilled at the end of our day, with no alarming conflicts. He points out that this kind of balance is a challenge, but completely possible.

I want to put it straight out there, and say that there is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve more. It’s completely normal (and, amazing!) when we strive for greatness. However, we need to keep our own values and needs in check with respect to our mental and physical health.

Below are the three strategies Dr. Hanson suggests integrating into your daily life to achieve the ever sought-after work-life balance.

1. Fill yourself up with the good

This strategy is all about you. Nurturing yourself, taking care of yourself and being compassionate with yourself. By ensuring that you get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals and receive and express love, you start to build up what Dr.Hanson calls “psychological resources”. These resources will help you in times of stress and allow the smaller issues, to simply ‘slip off your back’.

This does not need to be integrated into your life in a drastic, time-consuming manner. You can simply do little things throughout the day that take care of your basic needs. Aim to amass 30 minutes a day to really soak up the good and feel it melt inwards to start creating a resilience to stress factors.

2. Be aware of the people you surround yourself with

Dr. Hanson also points out that getting clear on which people and what situations push you into the “orange” or “red” stress zones is crucially important. He encourages us to seek out and surround ourselves with individuals who have our best interest at heart vs. the bottom line.

We are starting to see a strong movement of forward-thinking companies that value their employees and realize the benefits of making sure their people are taking care of themselves – the triple bottom line.

In Dr. Hanson’s words: “be clear-eyed about the seductions of the workplace”. It may be that your employer does not have your welfare in mind. That means it’s up to you to make those decisions that will nurture the balance in your work-life.

3. Prioritizing into A and B priorities

According to Dr. Hanson: “if you are going to fill your bucket, put your big rocks in first.” This strategy focuses on learning to pull apart your priorities, and classifying them into two groups: crucial and/or fixed and secondary and/or flexible.

The crucial/fixed priorities are the things that matter the most to your well-being. These are key, and once you gain an awareness of what they are, you can then create a plan to make sure that they are met daily.

The secondary/ flexible type priorities are things that you would like to get done, but are not crucial for your well-being. These are like icing on the cake. Adding them into your bucket last allows you to control the flow and avoid overwhelm or overfilling your bucket.

All three of the strategies Dr.Hanson suggests are simple to integrate into your day. By spending short periods of practicing awareness and compassion for ourselves and our surroundings, we can ‘re-calibrate’ our lives and achieve a stable, optimal work-life balance.