Maintaining Balance in Your Lifestyle

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There's a lot of buzz about maintaining balance right now. It's important to do it. Ideally, we should all maintain a mix of work and play, of things we have to do and things we want to do, of things that drain us and things that feed us.

We also need to carve out enough time for sleep, relationships that sustain us, exercise, healthy meals, and other life-affirming activities in our lives so we don't drown in only work and chores. But what does maintaining balance look like?

What Does It Mean to Maintain Balance?

Sometimes maintaining balance can be messy. Even when we find overall balance in our lives, there are going to be times when we are overloaded, times when we realize we need to pare down, and times when we can't pare down right away, but can work toward greater balance in the near future. If you find yourself in that position, don't stress about it; that's part of maintaining balance, too.

To illustrate this point, try balancing on one foot. Do you notice that you sometimes find yourself leaning in one direction and, in order not to fall, have to right yourself by leaning in the opposite direction? If you just stayed perfectly still, you'd fall.

Maintaining balance isn't about staying perfectly still; it's about recognizing when you're getting out of balance, and righting yourself. Constantly.

There are times when you need to adjust slightly to be back in balance, and other times when you need to adjust quite a bit. You might notice signs that you are getting out of balance such as starting to feel exhausted or even sick, which can be a sign that you need to listen to your body and your emotions.

Staying in balance looks different for everyone. Everyone has different needs for balance, different variables that work within their lives, different levels of tolerance for imbalance, and different resources available. Below are a few different balance-finding ideas to help you in maintaining balance, so you can right yourself when you find that you need to shift back to your center of balance.

Take a Mental Health Day

The movie Ferris Buller's Day Off depicts a high school senior making the most out of a day of playing hooky, became a classic for a reason: people everywhere can identify with the need to take just one day off from the pressure or monotony of life, and do anything and everything possible to make it count.

You can start by learning more about when and how to take a mental health day. Take a day to destress, relax, and do the things that you need to get back in balance. 

You may not spend the day singing in parades, eating in fancy restaurants, or trying not to be run over by your jealous sister, but spending one day in a way that feels restful or fulfilling for you is the trick. Use your imagination!

Just Say No

Think about all the things you need to do. Which ones do you want to do, and which ones do you have to do? Ideally, there should be a mix of both.

When working on maintaining balance, you can do two things that involve saying no, and both can make a big impact.

First, see if there are any 'have to' items you can cross off of your list. (Think of your own wellbeing and try to make the right choice.) Second, be sure that all of your 'want to' items really bring you joy and feed you emotionally.

If they're just 'sort of' worth the time, cross them off and start doing something that's really worth your time. When time is scarce, make every moment count.

Ask For Help

It can sometimes be easier for an outsider—someone who is not you—to see not only when you're getting out of balance, but recognize what you can do to get back into balance. Everything in your busy schedule may seem vital (and sometimes it is) but if there's something that may be more easily let go of, it's often a good friend, close relative, or spouse who can help you recognize that.

If you don't have that kind of supportive person or persons in your life, it may even be worth finding help from a professional, either from a life coach or, in more serious stress situations, a therapist.

These professionals have an arsenal of resources to help you to manage your stress, and can also help you to change thought patterns and coping strategies that may be contributing to your stress levels.

Cope With Stress

These three strategies can work wonders for those who are already at a breaking point and need to regroup. However, once you regain balance in your lifestyle, or if you're not feeling that you're at a point of crisis yet but you'd like to avoid it, there are some ongoing strategies that can be practiced daily that can help as well.

Some steps you can take include:

  • Delegating tasks 
  • Letting go of perfectionism
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Self-care strategies
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Utilizing stress relievers and relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and meditation

These strategies can help you maintain internal emotional balance as well as balance in your life.

A Word From Verywell

Find a way to maintain balance can take time and practice. The key is to keep finding ways to improve your mental well-being and cope with the stress that you face each day. Instead of waiting until you reach your breaking point, know when to take a break in order to avoid symptoms of burnout.

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