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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

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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Energy & Emotions –Part III: Choosing Your Emotions

In Part I of Energy and Emotion , I discussed  ways to delegate our personal energy in order to make the best of each day.   Part II  focuses on  the allocation of energy in  relationships and provides  suggestions for self-care.  The impetus behind the articles were twofold:  first of all , to  discuss  the importance of  being mindful of how much personal energy we have within ourselves on a given day and  secondly,  our ability to decide how we want to use that energy.   In Part III – I would like to focus on some of the emotions that have a tendency to zap our energy and may contribute to a plethora of physical symptoms.  I like to call them wasted emotions because in general they are not readily solvable and they can use up a lot of our emotional energy.

The focus of this entry  is on one emotion: worryWorry by itself can lead to a host of other emotional situations such as: anxiety, stress, guillt, tension, panic, and fear which, in turn can further cause a number of physical symptoms.  Dwight Eisenhower said: “Worry’ is a word that I don’t allow myself to use”.    Wikipedia’s  definition of worry is :  Give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles,  a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.

So, what’s wrong with worrying?  Sometimes nothing, as in a situation of immediate danger.  In these cases, our fight or flight  response sends us into action to handle the situation.  There are situations when it is considered natural to worry or be anxious such as a job interview, taking a test or entering a new situation.  “A little anxiety is helpful. It can help you get ready for an upcoming situation.”    Unfortunately worrying, in general is counterproductive and can use of tremendous amounts of our energy.  So why is worry counterproductive?    William Ralph Inge  says “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”    To understand this better,  try visualizing yourself in a situation which causes you to worry.   What thoughts are going through your head?  Perhaps, you are praying for a situation to go your way,  maybe you are wondering if something negative or bad will occur in the near future or you may be concerned about how you will feel or how others treat you or will respond in a given situation.  The possibilities for worry are endless.  The answers are few to none.

Worry involves fear or curiosity about the unknown.  Unfortunately the anxiety, depression,  fears etc.  we feel when we worry may end up as being for no reason.   In otherwords, most worry does not solve anything because we don’t have the answers that we need to quell our concerns. Another consequence of excessive worry is the development of a wide variety of physical conditions, some of which can be serious.  Every body system can be compromised by our emotional state. Aa list of these  conditions can be found at http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body . So what can we do to diffuse excessive worry. Here are some suggestions:

Postpone worry to prevent dwelling on it all day

  • List any worries that arise during the day and avoid thinking about them.
  • Plan a ” worry period” at the end of each day (avoid bedtime). during the worry period
  • Analyze your worry list
  • cross off the items that no longer worry you.
  • evaluate the items that are still a problem
  • Decide if the remaining problems have solutions which you have control over.
  • If yes, start problem solving to find a solution
  • If no, recognize that there’s no current solution and then let it go.

Accept uncertainty , there may be nothing you can do to immediate relinquish your worries

Let your emotions out

  • Talk about it to someone
  • Cry aloud
  • Journal or write about your worries

Find ways to Relax

  • Meditate or use guided imagery
  • Think positive
  • Use Affirmations
  • Do something you love to do

So, next time you start to worry,  ask yourself this question:  Is this something I want to use up my energy supply for?

A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”  John Lubbock     </blockquote

References:

more quotes about worry http://wp.me/P2Cf41-17

Related Articles:

3 Myths About Vulnaribiltiy

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/29/3-myths-about-vulnerability/

Stop Worrying About What Others Think

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/gentle-self/discuss/616/

How to Stop Negative Thinking

http://www.usenature.com/articles/counselling-coaching/778-how-to-stop-negative-thinking

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