Balance. We love the thought of it and need more of it. Yet so many times it seems like a pipe-dream.
So what is the secret? Join me as I explain the value in not neglecting self care activities especially in four certain aspects of your life that play a huge role in reaching and maintaining balance.
But in order to get to the heart of the matter, we’re going to have to start by peeling back some layers.
It seems everywhere you look it’s all about extremes. Too much or too little seem to be the theme of modern day life.
People over eat or under eat. They’re exercise fanatics or couch potatoes, workaholics or do just enough to get by. They have too many possessions or not enough to make ends meet, and give too much or not at all.
So why is there rarely an in between? Why does a healthy balance seem so far out of reach?
We Are Emotional Creatures
Peeling back more layers, we can see that our mind and emotions govern most of our thoughts and actions. It’s the very reason a sales person is looking for an “emotional buyer.”
Most decisions are made using a simple formula: mental reasoning + emotional attachment = an outcome.
A healthy balance of the two is key in leading you to decisions that create a state of harmony.
The challenge lies in the reality that people are often mentally, emotionally drained and exhausted that there is a disconnect between the two.
This disconnect causes one to feel like their life is spinning out of control and constantly out of balance.
It’s easy to become jaded by the temporary rush that more equates to feeling better emotionally.
You know the feeling – the euphoric feeling, the sort of “mental high” that can be felt in the moment of getting what you want, which escalates even more when it’s a lot of what you want.
Suddenly you’ve arrived at happiness!
And then there’s “If I just had this, or lived here, or got to do this, I’d finally be happy.”
All this does is create a facade, a temporary, fleeting moment of happiness and fulfillment.
But for those of you seeking real balance and working to bring your life into a state of harmony, you realize that happiness and fulfillment are a genuine state of mind and beingness that are a result of bridging the gap between your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical states.
A true, lasting happiness can only be created from the inside out. And balance is a catalyst for it.
How to Bridge the Gap With Self Care
Many people put themselves at the bottom of their daily to-do list (or leave themselves out entirely) due to time constraints.
But what it really boils down to is getting your priorities straight so that your own self makes it to the top of the list. Does talking about how much “me time” you take make you cringe or push your ‘I know I should but I just don’t have the time’ button?
I know, I know, you have to make sure everyone else is taken care of first. But ask yourself if it’s really necessary to neglect your own needs in the process. The obvious answer is no BUT the hardest question is WHY then? Taking a long hard look into yourself is easy – said no one ever.
Why is it that you don’t feel important enough to make it to the top of your list, so much so that you give every ounce, every last drop of your energy to those you love and care for, saving none of that goodness for yourself? I bet just reading that sentence makes you think twice about it.
You are not alone, that’s for sure – giving yourself the attention you deserve can be quite a challenge. I created a post with 10 specific ways to practice self-love along with 40 self care affirmations with this very thought in mind. To inspire you and help you see just how awesome you really are!
Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
You’ve probably heard the “put your oxygen mask on first before your child’s” analogy a few times. You know it’s the right thing to do but would you really do it or would the stress and pressure of the situation influence you to make a decision based on the intention to save your child?
Emotion says give the oxygen mask to your child first. Rationality says put the mask on first so you will be strong enough to save your child.
Earlier I mentioned how emotional attachment can influence our decisions. The standard reaction is to save your child by getting the mask on them as quickly as possible, bypassing the rational thought process that if you don’t survive your child loses their mother or father. So the child lives but you don’t.
Nourishing yourself in the following four areas is essential to help you live your life as the happiest, healthiest and most awesome version of yourself by creating your life of balance.
1. Your Body Can’t Thrive on Dead Food
Starting with the most basic, yet most neglected area of self care. FOOD. Are your food choices dragging you down? If the food you eat is not making you feel vibrant, happy, and healthy it’s time to dig into your food habits.
Remember, the goal here is balance. For instance, the way I maintain my food balance is by using the 80 20 mentality. I choose to eat 80 percent clean foods/beverages and allow 20 percent splurges.
I love me a good glass of wine, craft beer, or some dessert sometimes :) I do my splurging on the weekends since it’s family and friends time.
This is what works for me, being a food natzi just doesn’t work for me. Of course there are moments of extremes, but for a specific outcome, cleansing for instance. But those times are temporary and few and far in between my everyday balanced eating habits.
It always makes me laugh when I hear the stigma of deprivation attached to healthy eating. That’s definitely a myth…I never feel deprived. The food I eat is delicious, satisfying, and makes me feel great! I definitely can’t say the same about unhealthy foods.
Another super easy way to get yourself into a healthy food space is simply by monitoring your portions. Moderation and balance are old friends…they go way back.
These suggestions work with great success, so if they work for you then great – go ahead and adopt them. If not, create your own way of healthy balanced eating that fits you and your particular lifestyle.
2. The Couch is Not Your Best Bud
Look, I’ll be the first to say that I think lounging is underrated, but mostly for people who have a hard time just relaxing and doing nothing sometimes. For movie nights, and necessary R&R time – the couch can be there for you, but a little healthy distancing from your couch can be a good thing sometimes.
Physical activity not only to keeps your organs and muscles healthy but also releases those endorphins which is huge for healthy moods and stress relief.
If you’re not a lover of the gym, or hardcore workout person, no worries. The beauty about being physical is as long as we’re up and about, moving our bodies, with things like walking, hiking, biking, dancing or yoga, all these things count.
I can’t tell you how many exercise programs or gyms I’ve tried that after a period of time just bored the heck out of me, like I’d rather chew on shoe leather than do that one more time!
Which is the worst because you know what happens next…yep, that’s right, you quit.
So, through trial and error I discovered I’m most definitely an outdoor activity kind of girl – nature and adventure are what keep me tickin’.
I want to mention that just because it’s exercise, going all crazy intense with it is not healthy either. This makes the list as an excess that becomes an addiction.
And studies have proven that long term cellular damage can occur from this type of extreme excessive exercise on a regular basis.
The most success comes with choosing physical activities that interest you and you enjoy so that you’re motivated stick with them.
3. You Can’t Be Happy if Your Career Stinks
Hate your J-O-B, boss, or co-workers? Most people spend eight hours a day or longer at their job. Considering it’s a like a “second home” whether or not you like your career has a huge impact on your emotional well being. Sadly most people hate their jobs.
You know the feeling of waking up early everyday with that pit in your stomach resenting another day in a demanding, high pressure, high stress environment, especially when all the company has an interest in is it’s bottom line dollar and how you can assist in achieving it.
Too much stress sucks the life right out of you. The workplace is where so many of us really lose ourselves, and experience serious burn out and health concerns.
It’s stressful, degrading, and even downright painful, not getting the recognition and compensation you deserve all while continuing to work your behind off everyday for “the man.”
Bottom line is if your career is affecting your quality of life an any way; if you’re stressed out all the time, unhappy, missing time with your family, experiencing health issues, or just generally unfulfilled, take time to assess whether a new career may be on the horizon.
It may just take a chat with the boss, an adjustment in working conditions or responsibilities, a promotion or raise to resolve your situation.
Entertaining the thought of letting go of a career can be extremely scary, especially if you’re used to a certain level of comfort, or standard of living. The thought of jeopardizing these things may not seem worth the risk.
It’s definitely not a decision to take lightly, or act rashly upon. Really take time to weigh the gravity of your decision seriously and rationally.
Should you choose to continue working for others some due diligence can lead you to find a more suitable career with a company that values and respects a work life balance.
Should you choose to start a new journey working for yourself you will truly be in control of creating your own balance, which takes a different level of commitment and discipline.
Either way, reaping the benefits of a fulfilling career, loving the work you do, is one of the greatest avenues of self care that will reward you with genuine long term happiness for yourself and your family.
4. You Won’t Grow In Unhealthy Relationships
While putting this list in this order, there was a “method to my madness.”
Even though none of these four areas are necessarily easy to get a grip on, this one and career are probably the hardest.
Which is not surprising when you think about the fact that in the first two areas (food and physical activity) you’re the only part of the equation to consider. When you decide you are worth the effort, you will affect change. Done deal.
On the other hand, negative or abusive relationships and careers involving multiple people are a real test as they bring to the table, and challenge the tendency to take care of everyone else and place too much concern on what others think of you.
Attached to that tendency are things like concern and worry about potentially hurting someone you may care deeply about, or being perceived as a mean self centered person.
Toxic relationships come in all shapes and sizes. They can be in the form of a spouse, partner, family member, friend, boss, co-worker, etc.
In any case if you are not receiving the mutual love, respect, consideration, trust, and support that you deserve then it’s time to step back and reassess your relationships.
The best thing you can do in these situations is reach out to the person, communicate your feelings and ask that they too share their feelings.
Sometimes if it’s a deep rooted issue, difficult as it may be, or bad as it my hurt – try to separate the ego from the self, get it out on the table, and work through it with an open heart and mind.
Forgiveness is never easy but can be so powerful for healing and moving on.
Also never an easy thing to do, and unfortunate, is the necessity to cut ties with people who continually disrespect your boundaries, take advantage of you, are emotionally draining and negatively impact your well being.
Regarding relationships that need mending; When you are ready, take measures to try and mend them, choose to remain open to the possibility of a fresh start. If the other person is open it can be the start of a positive new relationship.
If the other person doesn’t reciprocate and chooses to remain closed off, try to find peace in knowing you made an effort.
Make a healthy decision by choosing not to allow their behavior to negatively impact you. You may have to make the difficult choice of letting this one go. It doesn’t mean that if later down the road he or she opens up to to let you in, you can’t pick back up in that same open state.
A major part of self care is loving and respecting yourself enough to make the hard calls when it comes to relationships, whether it be knowing when to say no and accepting that it’s not a bad or selfish thing or letting go of negative and unhealthy relationships.
You don’t expect nor want people you love and care for to be stuck in unhealthy relationships so don’t allow it for yourself either. Your life has more value than that. You deserve to be involved in healthy, positive relationships.
So there really is no secret here, understanding the root causes of imbalances is the first step to preventing them from occurring and fixing them if they do arise.
Once you have a good grasp on all four areas of self care, monitor them so that you can stay on top of them.
It boils down to a few fundamental areas of your life that require regular “check-ups”, which in turn will manifest as healthy balance enriching your life and allowing you to be the most fulfilled version of yourself.
But it doesn’t come free, you have to do the work. It’s a constant journey to check-in with yourself and work to bridge the gap between your mind, body and spirit.
When you choose to make a conscious effort to implement balance in these four areas you bestow upon yourself and those you love one of the greatest gifts – a life of harmony, resulting in real internal peace, happiness and freedom that bubbles over to everyone around you.
What does balance mean for you and what are some ways you’ve been able to enjoy it in your own life?