How To Be Happy: Don't be afraid to put off social get-togethers

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The Independent Online

Q. 'I cannot keep up with my life. I am constantly juggling work, social and domestic demands. How can I cope with it all before I become exhausted?' N.

Step 1: Prioritise what is essential. Put everything in your diary that you have to do: appointments, meetings and your work schedule for the month ahead. This way you can see your commitments mapped out week by week. If you have any evening engagements, identify which ones are fixed, such as work or special occasions, and which ones can be spread over the month, such as informal drinks with friends. Be sure to schedule into your diary exercise and other activities that will help to promote your health and wellbeing. If these are not part of your regular routine, they can be easily forgotten, but they are essential if you are to maintain balance.

Step 2: Now think of ways that you can create boundaries so that you do not end up feeling besieged. Some people arrange after-work social engagements only towards the end of the week, neatly segueing into their weekend fun and giving them time to get to the gym the rest of the week. Others limit the number of after-work appointments to two or three a week so that they have time at home to get through domestic servitude necessities and enjoy a few early nights.

Step 3: Never feel guilty about saying no to an engagement. You do not have to give reasons or excuses; there is never any requirement to justify what you choose to do with your free time. A useful approach is simply to say, "Oh, I would love to have come but I have other plans" or "I can't then, but could we do it another time?" This way, you can spread out your pursuits over the course of the month without getting exhausted. If you commit to something then don'tfeel up to it on the day it comes around, again, don't be afraid to maintain your boundaries. You won't be the first or last person who cancels, but avoid making a habit of it because, naturally, it is disappointing for all concerned. Your health and wellbeing should always remain your top priority; without it the show simply cannot make it to the road, let alone stay on it.

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