Finding balance can be a difficult thing to achieve at different stages of our lives. Whether we are studying full time at university, working in a full time job, or juggling many roles such as paid work, volunteer work, housework, social lives, study, family, relationships, and parenting (as so many of us are), it really can be a tricky thing to achieve balance, yet its importance cannot be denied for maintaining good health and happiness.
What do we mean by “balance” anyway?
Have you been studying so hard lately that you feel like it’s been a lifetime since you went to a gym class, and not only that but do you actually really miss it? Have you been working hard in or outside the home and feel as if you haven’t seen any friends in what feels like forever? Do you feel like you are just not very happy due to one big thing playing on your mind (or lots of little things)? These are all signs that something may be out of balance in your life.
For me, there have always been times where I’ve had to work at getting things back in balance. Some of the different stages I have experienced where it has been a challenge to find some relaxation time and balance have been:
Studying full time at university with many extracurricular commitments
Studying full time at university and working a weekend job
Studying part time at university while working multiple part time jobs, placements/internships, and volunteer work
Working full time
Being a full time stay at home parent
Whatever your situation (because this is sure to change throughout your lifetime) finding balance can be an important factor in achieving wellbeing, happiness, and health.
Think about some of the things you do (or don’t do) to create more balance in your life. Are there any particular strategies or philosophies you follow?
What are some of the things I do to help with creating an overall sense of wellbeing, health, and happiness?
I schedule exercise into my diary a week ahead. This is an absolute must for me, as it improves my physical and psychological health immensely. I write down workouts as an appointment that simply must be kept. In saying that, to keep some balance and perspective (which is what this post is all about) there are obviously times where the “appointment” must be cancelled due to illness, fatigue, or other emergency situations. Flexibility is important here too!
A good rule of thumb for me is “run today, walk tomorrow”, or “walk today, run tomorrow”. If I am having a particularly energetic week then there is certainly no harm running on consecutive days, and I have done this many times, but if I am experiencing low energy it can be nice to get outside for a slow walk without the pressure that I must run in order to fit another workout in. Sometimes a power walk is enough to create so many endorphins and energy that what begins as a walk soon turns into a run anyway 🙂
Cooking can be a great stress-buster. Not everyone likes cooking, but I find it is a creative (and mindful) outlet that has a tasty result, so what is not to love? Oh, okay, the cleaning up! Well, that does require some discipline…
Rituals and Relaxation (or what I like to refer to as “The Little Things”)
Reading a magazine, watching your favourite TV program, eating a favourite food, or all of these 😉
Using my Grandmother’s teacups for a much-needed cup of tea
Taking a bath always helps when feeling a bit overwhelmed and when there is a lot on your mind. (I like it because it forces me to step away from the computer/iPad/iPhone, and have a complete break).
Social Life and Relationships
Sometimes sending a spontaneous text message to a friend is enough to really lift your mood when feeling down or stressed out. If you don’t have time for a phone call right at that moment, a short email will do to let your friend or family member know you are thinking of them. I sometimes try to fit in a phone call or Skype session when baby is napping, so this is the kind of thing that might work best when scheduled into your daily calendar, especially if you are having a particularly busy week.
Meeting face-to-face with friends also does wonders for your mood and well-being and the benefits should not be underestimated. Make it a priority!
Let’s face it – sometimes stress and anxiety can get the better of us and we just don’t feel relaxed no matter what we try. So what next? Take a nap, watch TV, read a book! It may or may not help to use these methods but it is always worth a try. If you want to focus in on what is going on for you rather than using distraction techniques, then writing down exactly what is bothering you can help too. Writing it out so that it is clear in your mind is useful.
And remember, mindfulness teaches us that we can acknowledge and accept these negative feelings without trying to fight them. It is okay to feel sad or angry sometimes. Life is complicated!
If things really are feeling crazily out of balance, work on the big things first: sleep, food, fitness/health, relationships, work, social life, and relaxation. Once you sort out the big picture you can then think about the smaller issues that can be improved little by little to make your daily life even better! We are all “works-in-progress” after all, evolving, learning, and changing over time.
All the best with your health and happiness, and finding balance in your life.