The six pillars of healthy work-life balance

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Good work-life balance can sometimes feel elusive and unattainable, so we’re breaking it down into its six key pillars

The six pillars of healthy work-life balance

Poor work-life balance can snatch life’s joyous moments away from us, and be detrimental to our mental health and wellbeing. But levelling it out isn’t usually straightforward. Here, with the help of Dr Kirstie Fleetwood Meade, we’ve identified six key pillars of work-life balance on which to lay your new foundation.

Your ‘why’

It’s pretty impossible to set off on any journey if you don’t know where you’re heading, which is why working out what you’re seeking should be your first step.

“Spend some time visualising what an ‘ideal’ work-life balance would look like to you,” Dr Fleetwood Meade says. “It may be that this visualisation seems really out of reach right now. If it currently feels like it’s a three out of 10 in terms of how aligned you are with this ideal, how could you nudge it up to a four? Focusing on the little steps can make this seem more achievable.

“Next, ask yourself why it’s important to you. If it’s to feel less stressed, why? Does it allow you to be more present with your family? The clearer you are in your ‘why’, the easier it will be to say ‘yes’ to the things that lead you closer to it and ‘no’ to the things that don’t.”

Your values and priorities

Once you’ve explored your ‘why’, Dr Fleetwood Meade recommends shifting your focus to your key values. These are the beliefs that help guide us to live a life that is meaningful to us, she explains.

“Being crystal clear on your values makes decision-making around work-life balance easier,” she continues. “Some example values are: adventure, curiosity, power, fitness, freedom, fun, compassion, self-development, connection, love, equality – but there are many, many more.”

What role do your values currently play in your life, and what would a better work-life balance do for your values?

Your barriers or derailers

“Changing habits, making decisions, and saying no can all be emotionally draining,” Dr Fleetwood Meade says. “Which makes it all the more important to be able to pre-empt your likely ‘derailers’ – the things that will throw your work-life balance off track, or get in the way.”

Spend some time thinking about what exactly these might be for you, and consider how you can address them, plan for them, and get support with them.

Your worth and your infallibility

“It’s so important to look after ourselves just as well as we look after others, but if that’s challenging for you, I often reference the classic ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’,” Dr Fleetwood Meade says. “In my therapy work, I’m also a big fan of the idea of the ‘both/and’ – the idea that two things that may seem opposing can actually be true at the same time. Often we get sucked into black-and-white thinking – e.g. if I am the best colleague I can be, that means I need to be always ‘on

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

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Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This is spinach salad at its very best! With crunchy bacon and fabulous homemade salad dressing, this salad gets devoured every time I make it!

This is a perfect holiday (and every other day of the year) salad. I don’t even know where to begin with this spinach salad. When you read what the ingredients are you might think…”what’s so special about this?”, but the combination of the salty bacon with the creamy cottage cheese and flavorful swiss cheese just rocks the taste buds in all the right ways.

a photo of a large glass bowl full of a fresh spinach salad topped with thinly sliced red onions, cottage cheese, crispy bacon bits and shredded swiss cheese.


Every time I make this recipe I make a whole boat load, and every single time I have brought it to an event the whole boat load is gone. One of the best things about this salad is that it is perfect for holiday dinners and get-togethers simply because it doesn’t require any produce that could be out of season and the ingredients list is short and simple. You can eat this beauty ALL YEAR LONG! It’s seriously so good!

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Make it, eat it, enjoy it…and you can thank me later. In fact, add it to your Thanksgiving menu right now because I am for sure!

a photo of a large glass bowl full of fresh spinach salad topped with thinly sliced red onions, cottage cheese, bacon, swiss cheese and a homemade poppy seed dressing.Read more

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

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A wellbeing ritual favoured by the Victorians might just be the answer to our 21st-century ‘nervous ailments’...

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

I daydream, sometimes, about the sea. It’s not far from my house, but always feels like it’s somewhere foreign and exhilarating whenever I act on the urge to hear the waves crashing. Just being able to see the horizon, and take in the shifting shades of blue, grey, and green, brings me a calmness. It restores me, even if for just a few moments before the children’s demands for ice cream, chips, or a toilet visit bring me back to reality.

A close friend and I donned every layer we owned and wrapped our young daughters up to collect pebbles on the beach all through last winter. We couldn’t feel our noses or toes in the bitter, salty air, but we breathed it in and came back to our cars with burning cheeks, tired babies, and soaring souls. School and work have kicked in now, and so our trips are sporadic. But we reminisce and talk about why we needed it at that time. As my friend said: “I wanted to be witness to something that was bigger than me – the sea – and to gain perspective after an overwhelming period of our lives.”

The restorative virtues of the seaside have been praised for years, even before the mid-1800s when the first trains trundled from smoky London to the open horizons and pebbly beaches at Brighton. It was a whole century before this that the concept of moving from one place to another for your health had started gaining traction in Europe, where a ‘change of air’ was prescribed for patients suffering from ‘nervous ailments’.

By the Victorian era, the idea was widely accepted, and different locations gained favour for the treatment of different illnesses. These were both physical and mental maladies, including the illnesses collectively called consumption, of which tuberculosis was one of the most deadly. Trips to the Alps, though, for its clean, crisp air would only have been possible for the wealthy few.

There were, however, people trying to open up green spaces for everyone, as understanding deepened about the spread of diseases. Helen Antrobus is the assistant national curator for cultural landscapes at the National Trust. She explains: “It was generally understood that coal and smoke-filled air could be damaging to the lungs, and in the mid-19th century the belief that water-borne diseases, like cholera, were air-borne still prevailed. You can understand, then, why accessing clean air was so important. For the rich, accessing new climates abroad for health benefits was easily attainable, but not so much for those working and living in dire conditions.”

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

The Public Parks movement – which regulated holidays for workers and cheap railways – as well as the work of Octavia Hill and the other co-founders of the National Trust, gave people access to green spaces, both nearby and beyond. Helen adds that Octavia Hill advocated for pockets of green space, playgrounds for her tenants, and outdoor ‘living rooms’ for the urban poor.

This was a time when factories belched pollution above cramped, cobbled streets, and so a ‘change of air’ for the majority meant seeking out

5 effective ways to navigate unwanted diet and nutrition advice

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Unwanted, and unhelpful, advice can range from irritating to triggering, so we’ve gathered together some tips to help you handle it

5 effective ways to navigate unwanted diet and nutrition advice

Have you ever noticed how often people offer unsolicited diet and nutrition advice?

At work, celebrating a birthday with cake? Someone chimes in with their thoughts on the matter. Let someone know you’re feeling tired? Before you know it, they’ve given you a list of supplements as long as your arm. You didn’t ask, and yet, here they are, telling you anyway.

As a nutrition counsellor, exploring these situations is a regular occurrence for me in the clinic. I work predominantly with individuals restoring their relationship to food, their body, and themselves. Navigating these kinds of situations can be a minefield, especially when you are moving away from diet culture, and restoring your relationship with food. There’s no perfect way to respond, but the following are a few tips on how to navigate it...

Silence is powerful

Responding, or even engaging in conversations about food and nutrition, can feel draining at times – especially if you are navigating your own relationship with food. Even if you want to respond, sometimes, silence can be the most powerful tool you can use.

For some people, diet culture is so deeply entrenched, that regardless of what you say, it’s not going to change their mind. Opting for silence can indicate your disinterest in them, allowing you to save your energy for more important things in your life.

Them: I’ve heard we should all be making sandwiches out of lettuce leaves!

You: Stares into the distance and thinks about the cute cat you saw on the way to work this morning.

Make your response a neutral one

This is a great tool for situations when your mind is racing, and you don’t know what to say. Or when you’re trying to think of an apt comeback that you’ll look back on with reverence, but can’t quite find the words. Go for the most neutral thing you can think of, I like a simple ‘OK’, or ‘Mmhmm’. I think of this like sending the thumbs-up emoji – a very simple way of expressing ‘I’ve heard you, but this is the end of this conversation!’

Tell them what you really think

You may have to pick your audience here, but – if you’re feeling bold – you can try telling them what you think of their comment. Diet and nutrition advice is so sneaky that there is a silent, but a very present, expectation of how you will respond. Telling someone directly you don’t like what they’ve said can disrupt the flow, and turn that expectation on its head. This can be a very clear way of indicating how little interest you have in any nutrition or diet advice.

Try: ‘Thank you, but I wasn’t asking for advice.’

Lay down a boundary

Boundaries – an oldie, but a goodie. A boundary is a very clear line drawn in the sand that tells someone what you need. How you set down your boundary may depend on who is saying it, what context you’re in, and how often this topic has come up. It may be something which needs to be reiterated and rephrased to effectively comm

The Little Things Newsletter #353 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, my friends! Good morning, good morning, good morning!! The weather this week has been glorious with another 70 degree day here in Ohio. I realize it’s a false hint of spring, but I am basking in it while I can. 

It won’t be nearly so warm today, but there’s no rain in the forecast, so I’m hoping to get out for a long walk or hike. Local friends, where are your favorite walks and easy hikes in the Columbus area?

ON THE BLOG this week: Fresh strawberries tucked into light and fluffy pancakes create the loveliest Strawberry Pancakes you can imagine. If you happen to have some berries on hand, you have the potential for a breakfast that is certain to make you grin today.

Tender chicken and sweet corn are combined in a creamy chicken corn soup with just enough heat to warm your mouth without setting it on fire.

Steaming hot biscuits topped with melted butter have proven irresistible to every member of my family. I’ve made this easy drop biscuit recipe at least half a dozen times over the past few months. It just doesn’t get old.

Crispy, toasty, and ever so slightly cheesy, I can make an entire meal out of this garlic parmesan roasted broccoli.

Saucy BBQ pork tucked into melted cheese in a buttery crisp tortilla? That’s something I can’t possibly resist. This pulled pork quesadilla is a quick and easy way to get a hearty meal on the table, even on the busiest of weeknights.

Crisp, tart, slightly sweet, and always fragrant, the classic mojito is a cocktail that I never get tired of sipping.

Bite-size potatoes and Brussels sprouts are roasted with spicy sausage and plenty of cheese to create an irresistible dinner.

Sticky Asian Meatballs are sweet and a little bit spicy. I typically serve these meatballs over rice, with some steamed or roasted vegetables on the side. However, they work great as a party appetizer too.

Have you tried the Sweet Kale Salad at Costco? It starts with shredded kale, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, and a generous handful of broccoli matchsticks. The greens are topped with sweet cranberries and salty pepitas before being tossed in a tangy sweet poppyseed dressing. The awesomeness of the salad can not be overstated and now you can make it at home!

What I’m CRAVING: Have you tried Read more