What is a Balanced Life?
Some time ago – similar I’m quite sure to just about every other overworked woman on the planet – I realised that I was not living a balanced life. This is not to say that my life was dreadful – it was far from it.
However I was (and still am to a certain extent) struggling with sleep, all sorts of wicked cravings, and the need to please the bazillions of people in my life who unfortunately like to be pleased on a pretty consistent basis.
Can you relate at all? Do you – like me – have moments, hours, even days at a time where you feel your heart pounding furiously under your breast and you somehow know this is not ideal, yet you can’t seem to stop for even five seconds to acknowledge what the hell you are actually doing? Because this person wants this and that person wants that and there is so much to bloody do and no bleeding time to do any of it?
It is extremely easy to lose ourselves in this whole process of living and doing and being. But really, it doesn’t have to be so hard. A balanced life is achievable for all of us once we understand that the inner rush and turmoil we are feeling is actually CAUSING the outer madness and turmoil. Once we learn to slow the hell down … we will find that life slows the hell down.
Put simply, a balanced life is all about squaring up – harmonising – what we need to do with what we want to do.
Here are five signs that your balance may currently be out of whack:
· Nobody in your world seems happy – least of all you
· You RE-act to every little thing that happens. You no longer have any idea what constitutes a legitimate emergency – you respond to everything
· Life seems to be happening to you at a ridiculous pace – you are often overbooked
· You flit from one activity to the other – not a whole lot of conscious thought goes into what you’re doing – your modus operandi is ‘autopilot’
· Your self-care routine is basically non-existent. And sadly, because of this, you find yourself flying off the handle at your loved ones on a regular basis
Too many of us seem to have fallen for the (I believe, false) belief that a hectic life is a productive one. Of course, it is great to be busy and to get things done and to help those in need. But there is a difference between productive busy-ness and wayyyyy out-of-control busy-ness. When life crosses over to being out-of-control … this is a sure fire wake-up call for more balance.
Here are some things you can do to re-establish balance in your life TODAY:
· STOP. Then sit down with pen and paper and look at your life. Really look at it. Write down the five or six things that are most important to you (health? family? relationship?). Build a plan around these things to ensure that their maintenance does not get overlooked. For example – you will visit the doctor each month. You will have at least three sit down dinners with your family each week. Make a commitment to stick to this plan.
· Let go of the need to control. Try to let some things be … let life pan out as it will. Oftentimes the best laid plans are thwarted by unforeseen happenings – and one of those unforeseen happenings may just turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to you. Plan and set goals by all means, but try not to micro-manage every little detail. The good news is that once you have achieved some balance, the need to control will naturally start to slip away.
· Learn to delegate. Yes, it can be easier to just do it all ourselves … until we are at the point of breakdown and literally CANNOT DO ANY MORE!! Hand over the less important stuff to the others in your world. Even better, hand over some of the important stuff. Let others learn what you do – it will be great for their self-esteem, and great for you to be reassured that the world keeps spinning, no matter what.
· Practise some self-care. Look after YOU. The real you – not just the ‘mum’ you or the ‘employee’ you. Whatever makes you feel good – do this. Take regular baths. Drink wine (sometimes!) with your girlfriends. Browse bookshops. Make time for spiritual practice. Exercise! Remember, you are just as important as all of the others in your world. In any case you won’t be much use to any of them if you’re critically ill or exhausted or both.
· Spend some time in nature. In our crazy fast-paced 21st century electronic urban lifestyle it can be easy to forget this – but as humans we are actually wired to share a connection with nature. So make it priority to spend at least some time in environments which have – for the most part at least – been untouched by the hand of man. I love bushwalks. But even getting away from my desk, taking my shoes off and eating my lunch with the ducks in the park is something.
· Prioritise experiences over things. ‘Things’ can only make us happy until we’re thoroughly bored with them and consequently want the next ‘thing’. We will find ourselves on a neverending quest for happiness and balance if all we strive for in life is more stuff. So, where possible spend your time and/or money on experiences. A Sunday afternoon drive out of the city, a Saturday morning wandering around an art gallery in an unfamiliar part of town. These experiences will balance and enrich your soul like no ‘thing’ ever really can.