Last week I shared Part 1 of a series of blogger interviews about work life balance, and today I’m super excited to share Part 2. While our work/life balance is probably never going to be totally perfect, it’s really great to see how everyone figures it out for themselves. I hope you feel as inspired as I do after reading these two interviews!
Before we get into it, here’s a great quote from Jess, one of my fellow food bloggers: “Work/life balance is possible to achieve but it is something you have to do intentionally. Keep your eye on the prize and know when it shut your email off. It will be worth it!” We could all use some motivation to stop obsessing over email, right?!
From left: Dana Harrison, nutritionist, educator and spin instructor, blogger at Eats 2 Know
Emma, grade 10 student and blogger at Real Food Renegades
Jess Reilly, site merchandiser in corporate retail and blogger at Plays Well With Butter
What’s your definition of work/life balance? Do you think it’s possible?
Dana: The work/life balance sometimes can be a struggle for me because I work independently. My goal is to be able to enjoy both. I definitely think it’s possible, and I strive to achieve it.
Work can be such a big part of your life, but it doesn’t have to take over. I’m at a pint where I love what I do, so sometimes with doesn’t feel like work. Then there are other times when I’ll have to put in extra work and stay up late to finish touches on something, or just times where work and home collide, but every now and then it has to happen if I want to get the job done and continue the business that I’ve worked to create. There are times when I can get caught up in my phone (never-ending emails every now and then) or always thinking about the future — career and personal goals. I take a step back to reflect and challenge myself to be present. Be in the moment. Those reflections and reminders are everything because they help me appreciate what I have and allow me to evaluate moving forward.
Emma: I don’t really define work as separate from my personal life, especially since high school is such a big part of my life — and I enjoy it! That being said, I can get stressed easily if I don’t save time for myself and the things I am most passionate about, such as creating food and art and spending hours outdoors. I think that finding a perfect work/life balance is impossible as our commitments are always changing. Even attempting to do so creates unnecessary stress! What’s important for me to recognize when I’m becoming overwhelmed and give myself permission to take a break and relax, so that I can be my best in all aspects of my life.
Jess: Work/life balance is something that i am SO passionate about. Early on in my career, I wanted to ensure I was doing everything i could to get ahead. I regularly worked 80-hour weeks and brought my computer home every weekend to often put in 12-hour days from home. Needless to say, this lifestyle (or lack of one…) took a toll on my mind, body, and relationships. In the last couple of years, I’ve been very intentional about my professional goals and how they align with my interests and passions. This has meant figuring out a career path that would make sense for me and not just adopting the traditional corporate ladder career path that someone in my role typically has.
Ultimately, I would say that work/life balance is finding a balance between pursuing your passions, challenging yourself, and leaving a bit of time to do things that allow you to shut off your mind for a bit. If you’re doing something you love, the challenges you face along the way will be exciting and will give you energy rather than draining you. For me, this means figuring out how to really nail my niche as a food lifestyle blogger. No matter how much you love something, though, you need to put aside time to shut your brain off. These are the couple of hours each day I set aside for working out, watching some shamelessly indulgent TV, or date night with my husband.
What is your number one way to relax?
Dana: Hot yoga has been my jam recently. I love that it focuses on the mind body connection and that I also get a good stretch in. I teach spin a few times a week and the stretching is so needed. Plus it’s like a mini escape where you get to concentrate on you and you only. If it’s not hot yoga, it’s hanging around in the comfiest clothes, mug of coffee or tea in hand, plus a good book, tv show, or a playlist.
Emma: I love surrounding myself with things that make me happy and give myself space to create. I’ll wear my comfy pyjamas and make myself some herbal tea, play my favourite music (right now I’m loving alternative folk!) and write, draw, paint, or craft. Creating a calming atmosphere and working with my hands always calms me.
Jess: I love unwinding in the kitchen, but when I’m not in the mood for dealing with a pile of dishes, I’m a total sucker for primetime TV and a glass of good Italian wine. If w’e’re having beautiful weather in minnesota (which is rare!), I also love to go for a walk around the lake that’s near my house.
How do you deal when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed?
Dana: I typically tap into my go-to problem solving resources: 1. Take a break! Go to the gym to get the endorphins going; have a dance party of one to shake it out; go for a long walk or drive, etc and come back to the task refreshed. 2. Make a list of some sort. Mine typically involves check boxes, so that I can keep track of what needs to get done. Plus, I feel better when I get to check something off the list. 3. Seek outside advice from family members or friends. They know me best, and sometimes it’s helpful to get a pep talk or their opinion.
Emma: I always, always talk it out with my mom. She tells me exactly what I need to hear. Going outside for a hike in the woods or chatting with a close friend grounds me, too. Another strategy I use is writing out all that i have to do and planning when I’m going to complete those tasks. Organizing my life makes me less worried that I’m going to forget about something!
Jess: Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I always walk away from whatever I’m doing and get some fresh air to re-center myself. I love working out but rarely talk about it on my blog because it’s my sacred “me” time. I think working out stress and getting some fresh air all while getting a sweat on is pretty darn therapeutic. Usually after a great work-out (or even just a walk!), Ian come back to whatever it is that had me overwhelmed with a clearer mind and a better idea of how to prioritize differently to tackle the problem I’m facing.
What’s your ultimate comfort food?
Dana: Anything cozy and savory. I can’t pick one! Love butternut squash mac and cheese, a great soup, or hot homemade applesauce.
Emma: My very favourite food has always been pho, a Vietnamese beef noodle soup. It takes hours to make a good, aromatic broth, but my mom makes a quicker one with lots of spices like cinnamon and star anise. Nothing beats a steaming bowl of pho at my favourite restaurant, though! My other pick-me-up is really dark chocolate. My friends think it tastes gross but I love the deep flavour and creamy texture of 90% dark chocolate and admit I eat it daily! I always look forward to chocolate in my day.
Jess: Oh gosh. Being a midwest gal, I am allllll about cheese. Mac and cheese, a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, a gigantic cheese and meat plate — or all of the above. If not cheese, pasta is my #1 go to. I worked in an Italian restaurant right out of college and totally fell in love with the art of pasta in my time in that kitchen.
How do you feel about work/life balance? What’s your fave comfort food?