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Teenagers have a lot going on in their lives. Between school, friends, family, jobs relationships, and self, it can be hard to find time for everything and learn how to balance your life. It can often seem like you just can’t win. If you spend too much time with your friends, your grades will drop. If you ignore your friends and devote all of your time to a relationship, they will feel hurt and get mad at you. Your parents probably complain that you don’t spend enough time with the family. And then you have sports or other activities that you do for yourself. It can be really overwhelming and seem impossible.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Even adults have trouble finding balance. There are ways that you can learn to balance your life. Learning now, while you are still young, will not only reduce the amount of stress and anxiety you feel, but will help you live a healthier adult life as well. All of you relationships and hard work will benefit from learning to find balance. Here are some tips.
- Don’t spend all of your time on just one task or person. In other words, it is not healthy to spend all of your time doing homework and studying, leaving you no time to socialize or relax. Similarly, if you spend all of your time with your new girlfriend or boyfriend, and forget to nurture your friendships or study, you are harming yourself in the long run.
- Make a visual pie chart of all your obligations and how much time you spend on each. If one seems too small or another too large, start making changes so they become more equal and balanced. Sometimes the visual helps you realize things you weren’t able to see before.
- Be assertive. If someone is demanding too much from you, learn to speak up and say that you need time for other people and other commitments. Any friendship or relationship worth saving is one where this won’t be an issue. It is not possible to have a healthy relationship of friendship with someone who is demanding, possessive and needy.
- Learn to say NO. Will you help me study for the test? Can you come over and watch a movie? What about serving on student council? The swim team needs more kids. Speech and debate looks good on college applications. Come to that party with us? Plan the soccer banquet? No, No, No, and No. You are just one person, and you can only do so much. Yes, you should have varied interests and priorities. No, that does not mean you need to do everything. Pick and choose only things that are meaningful to you. There is simply no time for anything else.
- Let go of guilt. Your friends or boyfriend will be okay without you sometimes. Go ahead and stay home to study for that big test tomorrow, or just for some time to yourself. It’s healthy for everyone to have priorities, limits and boundaries. Your needs are important.
- Plan some family time. This gets harder and harder as you get older, but having dinner together every Sunday or something consistent like that allows everyone to rely on having special time carved out. As you get older and move out on your own, this ritual becomes even more important. Your family will know they are important to you, and you will have the support and safety of knowing your family is connected.
- Schedule some time for yourself and write it in your calendar like an appointment. If anyone asks anything of you during that time, just say that you already have plans. Because you do! You are as important as everyone and everything else that you have going on. Don’t forget.
If you are able to master these tips and incorporate them into your life, you will find great happiness and success in your high school years and beyond. You will be better able to manage working, going to college and having a social life. The career and family that you build will be productive, happy and healthy. What more could anyone want?