Balance? What Balance?
Kitty J. Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT
Certified Life Strategies & Stress Management Coach
A lot of people are talking about balance these days...eating a balanced diet, living a balanced lifestyle, creating work-life balance. Why all the buzz?
Yesterday, I spoke to a group of highly motivated and talented professional women who had signed up for my workshop entitled, "Stress Management for the Busy Professional Woman." Before I launched into my presentation, I asked the women to introduce themselves and offer in a sentence or two why they had signed up for the workshop.
A few mentioned that their main stress was coming from the drama of having teenagers in the home and having to deal with that in addition to whatever was going on at work.
One spoke of the fact that she has parents who are aging and in decline and she is preparing to have a sister move in with her so she can assist in the caregiving responsibilities, but she is concerned about having a roommate after years of living alone.
Another offered that this has been a particularly rough year for her. Her mom had died unexpectedly, she was separated from her husband of 30+ years, and she was suffering from the effects of major life changes that all seemed to be piling up at once.
Each woman had her own very personal and specific reasons for being there. A couple offered that they had suffered from anxiety disorders for years...a few offered that they were taking anti-depressant medication in order to keep their anxiety in check.
Out of the 16 women there, only a couple had nothing to say with regard to the stressors in their lives, and the thing that they all had in common was that they were well into their 60's and had finally come to feel that they were in a "good place" but they were there for the workshop because they were interested in the topic and wanted to learn something new.
If you were to look at any one of these beautiful women, you wouldn't know the inner struggles or turmoil that they are experiencing. They look like they have it together, and of course, to a great degree, they all do. They are just pulling it together with more sense of struggle and effort than they might have to if they truly had their lives in better balance.
So, what do I mean by balance? I mean that you do what you need to do in order to take care of YOU. Are you eating healthy foods and making healthy choices or are you grabbing snacks out of the vending machine thinking that this one time, it won't hurt you...but the one time becomes a habit.
Do you exercise in order to keep your body in shape or have you given up in frustration?
Do you keep your body properly hydrated by drinking the required amount of water, and are you getting the sleep you need in order to feel refreshed and energetic, ready to face a new day every morning?
Do you have a regular practice of prayer or meditation or both that can help you sustain yourself spiritually?
Do you keep up with friends and family or have you let them slip away because you are too busy?
These are the types of questions you should consider when you are thinking about creating balance in your life. And in order to give yourself a little more food for thought, take a look at this re-post of a little quiz that I offered a few months ago. Take a look, answer the questions, and really consider them.
Balance is an ever changing dynamic in our lives. Just as soon as we feel that we have gotten everything in balance, life has a way of throwing us an unexpected curve ball (or punch to the gut) that throws us off again. The key to getting back on track quickly is whether or not we have taken care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually during the lulls. If you have done that, getting back into balance is easier than it would be if you haven't been working at it all along.
Take the quiz even if you took it when I ran it back in the winter. You may be surprised to learn that your answers have changed because where you are in life may have changed since then for better or for worse.
Nothing ever stays the same. That is the only constant in life upon which we can absolutely depend. But we do not have to live our lives by chance hoping that when a major life event hits we will be okay in the eye of the storm. We can prepare so that we are better able to withstand the storm and we can bounce back more quickly,
How Well Do You Maintain Balance?
If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you feel like a tightrope walker, you’re not alone. Most of us have so many demands on our time and energy, life can feel like a three-ring circus. Take this quiz to see how well you are meeting responsibilities, while also recognizing and fulfilling personal needs and wants.
[ ] [ ] 1. The only way I can successfully manage my life is to take care of myself physically and emotionally.
[ ] [ ] 2. Nurturing myself enlarges my capacity to help others.
[ ] [ ] 3. I eat healthfully and exercise regularly.
[ ] [ ] 4. I get check-ups, go to the dentist, and take preventative precautions.
[ ] [ ] 5. I set aside personal, quiet time for myself, whether I’m meditating or simply letting my thoughts drift.
[ ] [ ] 6. I experience the gifts of each season: ice skating, sledding, bundled-up beach walks; gardening, hiking, more time outside; camping, swimming, barbeques; harvesting the bounty, gathering wood, spending more time inside.
[ ] [ ] 7. Creativity nurtures me, too. I do what I love, whether that’s cooking, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing or another creative pursuit.
[ ] [ ] 8. Reaching out to others enriches my life. I spend quality time with family and friends.
[ ] [ ] 9. Contributing to the world provides connection and purpose, so I give my time, energy and experience where it is most useful.
[ ] [ ] 10. I notice and heed the emotional signals that tell me I’m out of balance: irritability, overwhelm, resentment.
[ ] [ ] 11. If I feel that I’m catching a cold, I realize I may have stressed my immune system with overactivity, so I stop and take care of myself.
[ ] [ ] 12. When I need or want to, I say no to requests for my time.
[ ] [ ] 13. I listen to and honor the requests my body makes for such things as a nap, a walk, green vegetables, hot soup.
[ ] [ ] 14. If I have something planned for myself, I don’t just toss that aside when someone makes a request of me.
[ ] [ ] 15. I’m busy, but I find time to do the things I want to do.
[ ] [ ] 16. I’m happy. I regularly experience well-being, contentment, even joy.
If you answered false more often than true, you may want to take a look at the questions to which you answered false and see if you can incorporate something of its message into your life. Please don’t hesitate to call if you’d like to explore this issue further.
Author’s content used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications
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