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Finding the Balance

During the busy holiday season it can be difficult to fit in everything that needs to be done.  It is important, to remember that taking care of ourselves is also important.  This  re-post from my chronic condition site: Just Breathe: Slow Deep Breathes   is apropos for this this time of year.

When a person is feeling disjointed for any reason, it is likely due to an imbalance in one or more aspects of our lifestyle.  In my case it, the shift was caused by at least two variances to my lifestyle: a chronic illness and an early retirement. I had been off of work on a sick leave for a year when I realized that I would no longer be able to handle the rigors of my teaching position.  I felt a lot of remorse about having to resign from a coveted position.  I always felt that I would work for as long as physically possible even if I worked until I was 100, (okay, maybe not until 100), but here I am at 55.  At 55, I not only was leaving my current job but I felt doubtful that I would be able work again.  So, I took early retirement.  I thought to myself: ok, I’m retired, with health problems -now what? 

One half of my brain still had that worker mentality – keep busy, do everything, have fun, but learn a lot –DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, GO, GO, GO!   It sounded great, that is until the other half of my brain says –whoa, slow down, you know that if you must pay attention to your body. You need to think about how your body will feel if you do too much.  (I’ll spare you the details).   Now what?  Balance, I decided that what I need in this phase of my life is balance.What is balance?   According to Merriam-Webster, the word balance has many meanings.  The definitions which most closely explain (with some imagination) the “balance” I am referring to are:

  • “a means of judging or deciding”
  • “a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence”  (of our life)
  • “a:physical equilibrium b: the ability to retain one’s balance”
  • “mental and emotional steadiness”

When I think about balance I picture a teeter- totter (seesaw).   In order to control the moment of the device, it is imperative that both riders work together. When one side of the teeter totter is up in the air, the other side of the teeter totter is on the ground.  In order to balance above the ground each rider must exert an equal amount of pressure to their respective side.  When they do, the teeter totter will be suspended in the air with both sides being an equal distance from the ground.   

Here’s a scenario to apply this idea.   Suppose that you work at least an eight hour shift 5 days a week. In order to stay ahead of the game, you frequently bring some of your work home.  After dinner you spend the remainder of the evening on the work you brought home.   When you are ready to set the alarm for another long work day, you set it for two hours early so you can go to the gym before work.   When the alarm goes off in the morning, you roll over, look at the clock and feeling exhausted; reset the alarm for later and go back to sleep.  After all you can go to the gym later, after work.   When the alarm buzzes the second time, you realize that you set it incorrectly.  Now, you are running late. There is no time for good breakfast, so you grab a couple cookies, get in the car and race to work.   To make matters worse, this particular workday seemed more difficult than most – it’s difficult concentrating on the task at hands.  In order to get your work done you have to bring it home. This prevents you from going to the gym, again.   The cycle repeats itself!   Does this appear to be a balanced life?  



Seesaw (Photo credit: dianaholga)

Let’s use the image of the teeter- totter to answer that question.   One of the riders on the teeter-totter will represent the employee and the other rider, health and well-being.   If we imagine the riders on the teeter-totter, we will see that the rider, who represents health and well-being, is suspended in the air unable to muster the strength to bring the seat down to the ground, while the rider representing work is sitting on the ground using all their force to keep health and well-being moving.    There is only on way to remedy this – each rider must apply equal weight to the teeter- totter in order for it to balance. 

So, what is off balance in the example above?    The worker is sacrificing their health by making poor food choices and not exercising regularly.   This leads to poor sleep, more stress and lower productivity at work.    It is likely that the productivity of the worker would improve if they took the time take care of their health and wellness.   

What does your teeter- totter look like?   Does it bounce up and down haphazardly, stay stuck in the air or remain steady and even on each side? 

What aspects of your life are unbalanced?   How will you work to find the balance? I have listed some examples that can be considered important to a balanced life.  There s no right or wrong answers, each persons’ needs are unique to their situation.

family life     exercise    healthy eating   recreation   education   spirituality  joy     friendship    love    service to others    work

 Can you add to these?

*By the way, the person in the example is me!  Don’t let an unbalanced life affect your health and well-being.  Finding the balance takes time.  Start slow – one thing at a time.  I wish you all the best in balancing act.   LJK


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