by Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D.
Our bodies are a biological miracle of balance engaged in a constant search for homeostasis or internal equilibrium. But when we apply the concept of “balance” to the entirety of our lives, what does it mean? A sense of inner peace and calm? Contentment with the moment? Feeling harmonious with our environment? Whatever it signifies for you, balance is essential for functioning at our full potential. Like dancers or athletes, we all continually move in and out of balance throughout our years. How smoothly we make those transitions can vary.
So many life events take us out of balance…worry, fatigue, fear, yearning for what we don’t have, unrealistic expectations, sickness and loss of faith in ourselves. All of these issues, and more, get in the way of our ability to function at our best. When we are in balance, our bodies work the way they should. Conversely, when we are out of balance, we place ourselves at risk for illness and disability. Unfortunately, the older we get and the longer we have been out of balance, the greater the risk to our health. Body, mind and spirit all suffer.
So, how do we prevent loss of balance? In truth, we can never completely avert it. It’s a natural part of life. All of us come in and out of balance at various points throughout our time on this planet. But, we can recognize when we’re losing it, and just like the gymnast on the balance beam, we can try to hang on tight with our toes. If we do fall off, we can pick ourselves up and get right back on the apparatus.
So, get your pencils ready, because here are the key ingredients to manage balance in our lives:
- Engage purposefully in life. Pay attention. Make choices with awareness.
- Focus on what you can control, not what you cannot control.
- Create a routine that includes equal parts, work, exercise, rest, meditation/prayer and fun.
- Allow simultaneous acceptance of both the good and the bad.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Maintain Flexibility.
Awareness is key. Before we can fix a problem, we have to recognize that it exists. Pay attention to your mood; pay attention to your aches and pains; pay attention to your energy and your focus. Ask yourself, “What is occurring in my life that could be contributing or causing me to feel out of balance?” Then ask yourself what you can do about it so that ultimately you can come up with a new plan, and then prioritize and set limits where needed. Have you been burning the candle at both ends to keep up with life’s unrelenting demands? Have you been trying to please everyone but yourself? Have you just been having too much work, too much fun or too much of nothing productive? Recognize where it’s gotten out of whack, and think about how you can rectify the situation.
Next, ask yourself how you are looking at your circumstances. Allow your thoughts to just be your thoughts and not your reality. Thoughts can be changed if you’d like them to change. We always have choice about how we look at things, even when we feel like we don’t. That’s actually great news and can be instrumental in helping you stay on that balance beam and complete your routine.
When we recognize that we have choice, we recognize that we are ultimately in control of ourselves and our response to what is occurring in our lives. Allowing ourselves to be accepting of where we are in the present moment is truly a great skill to have. When we spend time wishing we were someplace else, it tips us right out of balance and out of our present reality. Without dealing with reality and accepting both the good and the bad, we have no chance of regaining stability.
In the end, we have to believe that we can do all of these things and that it is worth it. It is the faith that we hold in ourselves, in the people who are important to us and in something greater than ourselves, that helps keeps us from toppling over. Can you allow yourself to believe that you can cope with whatever comes your way? Can you take the steps you need to take care of yourself and commit to creating balance in your life? If you can, you’re on track to dealing well with life’s ups and downs in beautiful balance.
Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D. is a medical psychologist and director of Intuitive Psychology. For more information, visit www.intuitivepsychology.wordpress.com.