The quest for Balance
I was reading an article about Oprah Winfrey in a newspaper a while ago. It was talk about her weight loss issue. Most of you have probably noticed how she has been going “up and down” in weight. This is what she had to say about it all “My weight issue is not about eating less or working out harder, or even about having a malfunctional thyroid. It’s about my life being out of BALANCE, with too much work and not enough play, not enough time to calm down”.
I believe we often overlook the importance of Balance these days. We sometimes think we are “super humans”! Let’s slow down for a minute, think about “What is important to me”. Am I true to myself? Do I have Balance in My Life?
So what do I think about when we talk about Balance……
There is a great deal of talk these days about finding balance – whether it is between your career and home life, in your relationships, or in any other aspect of life. Balance means that you feel that all areas of your life are working together to form an integrated whole person. Finding your particular balance is different for everyone; it can even be different for you at various times during your life. When you are young and unattached, you may work long hours, but if that produces your desired rewards and allows you enough time to enjoy some leisure pursuits while maintaining your health goals, then you’re likely to feel balanced and stable. Later, when you have a family, you may find that you work shorter hours as the demands of raising a family become more important. For many the first sign of the lack of balance in their lives comes in the form of stress. You feel pressured and frustrated and even a small event such as traffic or an unexpected deadline can leaving you feeling unable to cope and decidedly out of balance. This can result in falling back into old habits that involve poor food choices, lack of exercise, and reluctance to try something new. Balance can feel much like sand in that it is always moving and hard to get a firm grasp on. Everything around you is always changing so each day requires you to be in control of yourself and your goals.
The only way to keep moving forward is to maintain the vision of what you want and the desire to make it happen. The concept of balance in life changes as life priorities change; the excitement of new goals fade a little into a routine and as you age you naturally become more comfortable with who you are. You may be prepared to put a great deal of energy into your work and social life when you’re a young adult while health and fitness take a backseat, rarely crossing your mind. This is very normal; we all take health for granted when we are young. You can eat horrible foods and exercise very little yet still function and feel well. For others, some time in your late 30s you may well have achieved many of your career and relationship goals and now realize that you have only one body and that to not take care of it will likely shorten your lifespan and decrease your quality of life. It is also around this age that the telltale signs of health problems start to appear, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Living a balanced life is about integrating the various areas of your life that are truly important to you and realizing that sometimes you need to make choices about what has to come first. Much of the stress that people feel in their lives comes because they are not willing to make hard choices and try to do everything that does not contribute to balance. By choosing what comes first, sometimes there needs to be sacrifices. But living a balanced life doesn’t require you to give 100% of yourself 100% of the time. There will be times when relationships and work collide but by knowing what’s really most important to you and making choices based on that knowledge, you’ll be better able to balance your decisions and feel whole. It is important to understand that priorities change so that you are able to focus on what is important at a particular point in time. You may just have learned that you have the beginnings of heart disease and so you decide that exercising every evening after work is much more important than going to happy hour with your pals. In order to improve your life you must be willing to say no. Identify your values and align your life around what’s truly most important to you. An often overlooked component of finding your balance is organization. When you start the day with a structured plan, it is much less likely that you will be surprised by the day’s events and over react. Plan ahead and anticipate your needs and have backup to handle any emergencies. If the buck always falls to you, then learn to delegate some of the less urgent items. Arrange time in your schedule for other activities besides work so that your days are not only balanced but also rewarding. Create an attitude of flexibility. This allows you to make adjustments during the day so panic doesn’t set in. Even when you have the odd day that turns to disaster, let it go and allow yourself to relax in the moment. Don’t be overly hard on yourself or have standards that are too high as this will just lead to more stress. We are all creatures of habit; these daily routines give us a sense of security and belonging in the world. Instilling healthy eating and exercise habits allows you the energy and stamina to deal with any adverse situation that may arise. Even when life is incredibly harsh or cruel people often take comfort in their daily routines, be it a jog through the park or swim in the ocean. Even during a normal day it is important to give yourself a break every once in awhile to restore your natural state of harmony and calm and to rekindle your creativity. Another important component of finding balance is to simplify your life. Stop over scheduling and over committing – and this includes your children. Every second of every day does not have to be committed to an activity. You must eliminate things from your life that really aren’t important to you or that don’t serve you. Being busy 24/7 doesn’t mean that you are any more important than anyone else – it simply means that you are busy and probably missing out on other things that could bring more joy and fulfillment to your life. When your life is overcomplicated and overfull, there’s little space for what truly matters. And there’s no room for personal growth, positive energy, love, or even breathing at times.
Balance is a continuous process that you will work on throughout your entire life. As you grow personally you’ll find new ways to integrate the different areas of your life to form a pleasing whole.