Maintaining Balance in Your Lifestyle

Maintaining Balance: Avoid Imbalance in Your Life

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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 (sex!) in our lives so we don't drown in only work and chores. But what does maintaining balance look like?

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 my point, try balancing on one foot. (Seriously, I encourage you to actually try it now.) 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.

I do this in my own life and, quite honestly, there are times when I need to adjust slightly to be back in balance, and other times when I need to adjust quite a bit. There are times when I feel myself getting a scratchy throat and realize that my body is telling me that I need to get back in balance quickly or I'll get sick. I listen to my body and my emotions, and I make the necessary changes to stay in balance (or I listen to wise friends who encourage me to do so).

Staying in balance looks different for everyone, as we all have different needs for balance, different variables we work with in our lives, different levels of tolerance for imbalance, and different resources available to us, among other things. 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, a favorite film of mine that depicts a high school senior making the most out of a day of playing hookey, 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 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!
When and How To Take A Mental Health Day

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.
How To Cut Down On Obligations That Cause Stress

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, 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.

Next Steps

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. The strategies below can help you to maintain internal emotional balance as well as balance in your life.

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