I have struggled with maintaining balance in my life for many years. It is something that is in constant flux and therefore requires constant re-adjustment. Caring for self, family, career and home is never an easy task and can be likened to juggling glass balls standing on a bowling ball. Several years of therapy and many years of research later, I am much more knowledgeable and experienced in noticing my own patterns of behavior and getting myself back on track when I find myself falling into a funk. I cannot stress enough that taking care of self is the most essential act that we can engage in. Exploration, enjoyment & relaxation are all components of a well balanced existence. Engagement in activities that allow us to be our true selves helps us grow as individuals and gives us the opportunity to know ourselves better. We need stimulus as well as rest so adequate sleep & leisure time are paramount and fundamental support to all those other demands in our lives.
Time for self is essential but it is the time that we neglect the most; usually for others, a worthy endeavor indeed but not without personal cost. It is necessary for our own survival and well being that we remember to nurture and care for our minds, bodies & souls. Without this maintenance, we risk our health and ability to be there for others and meet the demands and challenges of life. Our minds rarely get rest. Sometimes in my own sleep my dreams will be filled with all that overflows my mind. Things to do, bills to pay, errands to run, worries that rub me the wrong way and anxieties that antagonize my peace & disturb my sleep. Writing down frustrations and worries has helped me purge things from my mind. Jotting things down and setting reminders on my phone that I need to remember has helped me release those things and the fear of forgetting them. Just like you wouldn’t go to bed wearing all your clothes, shoes and coat on, nor should you go there with so much wearing on your mind. Creating boundaries is instrumental. I removed my work email account from my personal cell phone and finish work at my workplace and do not bring it home with me. Shutting down electronics and walking away from the general living area of my home also helps my mind retire for the evening. Finally, I settle into bed with a book or journal and I have a stack of each on my nightstand depending on my present mood. I choose based on what my mind needs to balance out whatever may be dominating it. A healthy, consistent nightly ritual of getting ready for bed helps prepare mind & body for a solid night’s rest.
Our bodies many time suffer the ails of the mind and the rigors of our busy lives. Stress can and will affect us physically and ignoring our body’s messages will only exacerbate the problems and risk our health, undermining all that we work for. I was a terrible caretaker of my body many years ago. Cigarettes, coffee and diet coke were my favorite staples and I thought myself quite the tough cookie having soldiered through many a tough time in life and not giving up. When the loss of a young (too young) long time friend woke me to the dangers of my unhealthy habits, I made a lifestyle change. I cut out the smoking, soda, fast & processed food and replaced it with exercise, fruit, lean meat and water, so much water. Naturally, what I put into my body had a direct impact on what I could get out of it physically. Whereas, several flights of stairs had me winded, now I can climb 200 flights in 27 minutes, according to the stair climber. Now I feel good for my age and capable of physically engaging in many enjoyable activities like hiking, biking & kayaking. I enjoy my time at the gym. I can exert excess negative energy from work there while producing endorphins and incidentally, good ideas. I get great ideas while I’m working out. Working up the sweat is incredibly satisfying. There is a sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout. I also engage in yoga and meditation as frequently as I can which seem like more of a mental maintenance ritual but I have been successfully treated for chronic nerve pain in my back with this stuff so I highly recommend. Stresses of the mind trigger physical issues. It’s also okay if you are not busy every moment of the day. There are always more things to do. They will be there after you rest and rejuvenate whether it be with some Netflix or a nap.
How does one feed the soul? It’s not a simple question. It’s so unique to the individual but I’ve noticed some commonalities among the humans I’ve known over the years. People that do what they love are immensely happy. They engage in daily work that fulfills, challenges and makes them grow. We nurture our skills and talents at work. Loving your job is a luxury for many people who work the jobs that are available regardless if they are enjoyable. Life beyond the job becomes all the more precious. It’s important for us to engage in those things we love beyond work. Writing poetry, your 1st novel or a recipe book of desserts; growing a window box garden, cooking chicken piccata, or building a fire pit in your yard to roast marshmallows in. Whatever it is that you love, do it, and do it with those you love. Chasing and fulfilling dreams is a worthy enterprise and time should always be reserved for this very purpose for nothing feeds the soul so much as feeling your dreams become your truth. That reality becomes reward for succeeding the struggle. How we spend our time is the most impactful way we can feed our souls.
What have you done for YOURSELF lately?
I wrote this as a reflection and reminder of what I have learned of life balance. In the tumultuous times we currently live in, we are being bombarded with very real fears and potential pitfalls all under the control of other people that speak for us, or are supposed to anyway. Even if activism is what fulfills you, everyone needs a break from the barrage of news media. Take a day off of social media or if you must indulge, just look at cute videos of baby animals or pictures of shoes. .