We crave it, seek it and sometimes even think we’ve nailed it; but balance is often fleeting.
Seeking balance requires a state of constant motion. A little more of this, a lot less of that.
What this juggle is all about is the act of balancing. Then for a moment, there’s a semblance of balance as the scales quiver between the two extremes.
The problem is balance can only be static if nothing else changes, as if every day was the same, with no random factors thrown in.
As much as we hanker for this illusive state, in reality the balance we crave could, in reality, be stultifying.
I’m not talking about preferring a chaotic life, wildly swinging from one extreme to another. But actual stasis, when we stop in our tracks in the name of balance, could become like Groundhog Day.
“Balance is not a static state to be achieved, but an action, continually in progress.”
Life is unpredictable
What may begin as a much desired feeling of equilibrium, could quickly become constricting, if narrow boundaries with no wiggle room are needed to continue to achieve this state.
Any guidelines for a healthy and ‘balanced’ life needs space for spontaneity, the unexpected and celebrations, or life can become monotonous at best, or at worst over-controlled and anxiety inducing if you veer from the formula.
It’s not about gripping onto balance for dear life, but having enough reserves to ride the storms and space to recalibrate once it’s over.
Five allies in the balancing act
What do we really need to better regain equilibrium and stay well through life’s ups and down? Here are my top five tips to ride the balancing act in good health.
1. Resilience: Like balance, resilience is another overused mantra of modern life but it just means having enough physical and emotional energy in reserve before life throws us a curve ball. Once the storm is over, we have to refill our tank to be ready for the next wobble.
2. Perspective: you know the Buddhist mantra “this too shall pass”? Balance is not a permanent state. What helps us feel in balance may vary at different times in our lives. With a small baby, it might be having the flexibility to nap when they do. While at other times, it’s about exercising every day. Grasping onto single components of balance can become obsessive and exhausting.
3. Letting go of perfection: Gardening taught me a lot about impermanence. For a moment when the weeding is done and everything is ripening to perfection, the little plot looks picture-perfect. The next day snails have chewed through the leafy greens, new weeds appear and the flowers have wilted. Perfection, if it can ever exist, is only a moment in time. Life is constantly in flux. Sometimes there is beauty in imperfection.
4. Boundaries: learning to say no when you don’t want to take on more is a life skill worth developing. No one is indispensable. Personal or professional ‘boundary creep’, allowing the demands of others eat into your time, energy and headspace, is a common cause of physical and emotional depletion.
5. Sleep: feeling wired and/or tired can be a warning signs that your scales are wildly out of balance. Getting enough quality sleep is one of our most important allies in the balancing act. Avoiding blue screens before bed, sleeping without devices on or within arm’s reach and getting into bed earlier enough to achieve between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, is perhaps the most basic building block for a balanced and resilient life. Yet it’s the one that we tend to constantly erode.
The art of less
The art of rebalancing may be more about doing LESS, than feeling pressured to add more ‘self-care’ into the mix. What can you let go of that no longer serves you? Choose one small thing today, such as checking in on social media in bed.
Work towards one bigger change that may take months to create, such as dropping off a committee, tweaking work priorities, or my recent breakthrough – focusing on facilitating rather than teaching.
”Balance is not a final goal, but an ongoing process. Being balanced does not mean being calm, relaxed, and content all of the time. Balance often occurs only for a fleeting moment, but it can reappear over and over again. Rather than trying to stay balanced, think of yourself as practicing balancing, over and over again.”
Helping your body rebalance
Sometimes we’re just too fried to even contemplate lifestyle changes. When the scales have been tipped towards too little sleep, too much stress and not enough healthful food – for too long – our body needs some skilled herbal and nutritional restoration.
If your reserves are low, help is on hand. Book a naturopathic consultation to replenish and restore the balance you crave. Consultations are available in person in Sydney, or via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime wherever you live.