“The result of trying to juggle elephants is that no one, including yourself, is thrilled with the performance.” (Loflin and Musig, 26) Too often we can get caught up in the busyness of life and before we know it, we are juggling way more than God intended us to! Sometimes juggling a lot can be exhilarating and lead us to feel productive and confident. It is important to remember there is a time for juggling and a time for an intermission!

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Burnout

When we try to juggle too many things, we can begin to feel off-balance and this can ultimately lead to burnout. Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Finding balance in our daily life can help reduce the risk of burnout and improve our overall well-being. Who wouldn’t want that?

Here is a list of ways to achieve this:

  • work with purpose and focus on meaningful moments
  • delegate work and give opportunities to others
  • control what you can and manage your time
  • get physically active and eat to perform
  • manage stress and actively practice self-care

Boundaries

Setting boundaries is another essential tool for sustaining balance and preventing burnout. Boundaries define your soul and they help guard it and maintain it. A boundary is something that indicates a limit, and setting one provides a safe space between you and the world, a kind of protective shell or personal property line.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

Learning to say “No” is really being able to set appropriate boundaries, which are key in so many issues of college life like dating, academics, dealing with roommates, family, and friendships.

Here are some tips on how to say “no” in healthy ways:

  • ‘No’ as a complete sentence: “No, thank you” or “No, thank you. I won’t be able to.” (Say it, don’t apologize, then stay quiet and stand firm.)
  • Vague but firm: “Thank you for asking me, but that is not going to work for me.”
  • Word of Mouth Is the Best Recommendation: “I won’t be able to, but let me recommend someone to you who would be able to help you.”
  • Last Minute Boundary: “I can’t add anything onto my calendar this month, but the next time you’re planning to go _____, let me know as soon as you can because I would love to go with you.”
  • Gracious: “I truly appreciate your asking, but my time is already committed.”
  • Know Thyself: “No. But here is what I can do….” (Then limit the commitment to what works for you.)
Man bending over from exhaustion from working out.

Embrace your limitations. Know your strengths, but acknowledge your limitations. Be honest with yourself. Take an honest appraisal of your limits. We all have them. Knowing your limits is essential to self-growth. Accepting your limitations lets you stop comparing yourself with others, and start focusing on the gifts that God has given YOU. Accepting your limitations gives you an opportunity for teamwork, with each person doing what they are good at.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

Balance

Sustainable balance does not mean equal balance. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic. Life is and should be more fluid than that. Your best individual sustainable balance will vary over time, often on a daily basis. The right balance for your today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children, and when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.

Be flexible. Let go of perfectionism. Start small and build from there. Create positive momentum towards reasonable goals. Allow yourself to take a day off. Free yourself from the guilt of not “getting it all done.” Reframe the thoughts of stressful tasks by reminding yourself of the rewards to come. Reassure yourself that the feeling of imbalance is only temporary.

There is no perfect, one -size fits all, balance that you should be striving for. Sustaining balance in our lives is a journey. Embrace the journey.

Stop trying to juggle elephants. Take an intermission.

Intermission text over a red stage curtain
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor provides high quality, affordable counseling services to Belton and the surrounding communities through the Community Life Center. We also offer outstanding graduate programs in counseling.