Balance : Trendy Hashtag or Attainable Goal?
Last week I was feeling the rigors of a being over scheduled and unforeseen issues that I mentioned to a few others that I should write a blog post about something along the lines of "your therapist being a person too". So I was above delighted when my longtime friend and colleague shot me a message as we were trying to juggle our own schedules attempting to figure out when to meet up that said she had randomly jotted down some of her own thoughts on paper about balance and thought it might be worth putting it out there! Ummm, yeah! We can all connect to this on some level as we try to hash out all the different aspects of our lives (or our calendars). I was very interested to hear her thoughts and I thought (with her permission of course) that you all would as well.
What is this thing called balance?
Webster defines it as stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis.
As therapists, we often tell clients how important it is to balance areas of their lives to reduce depression, anxiety, and other struggles. Although we give suggestions and some insight on what balance means, there is no definitive way to create a balance between all areas of your life. We know from experience that balancing is difficult to accomplish for anyone. There are times when one area of your life takes on a hefty percentage of time, leaving little to no room for other things. I, personally, am starting to feel that there is no real “balance” to life’s roller coaster. At any given time, you actively give more energy and time to whatever is most important. This includes a great amount of prioritizing and seeking to handle new things as they arise. It seems that when work is going great and successes are rolling in, relationships are being tested. Or when friendships and relationships are superb, there is something else lacking.
Are there times when everything is going well? Can and will we ever achieve real balance in our lives? Thankfully, balance doesn’t have to imply giving an equal percentage to each area of your life! Lord knows if I assigned an equal amount of time to EVERY area of my life I would be well over 100%, too much for anyone to carry daily. So I am thankful that gaining a healthy balance is most important.
You may ask, how do I achieve that? Well I’m so glad you asked! Here are...
FIVE Practical Tips to Achieve a Healthy Balance.
Scheduling is critical for a healthy balance. My favorite saying is “if it isn’t on my calendar I don’t know about it”. My iPhone calendar is full of little dots on each day of the week. There is so much technology available for scheduling, reminders, and to do lists that we can barely make excuses anymore.
Communicating current successes and failures to increase healthy balance is constructive. When important people in your life know and understand what you are experiencing, they are more likely to provide support to help you create balance. Don’t be afraid to share to reduce the sense of being overwhelmed.
Being intentional about quality time with family and friends helps to create a healthy balance. Even if you have to schedule it (Shhhh don’t tell them they are “penciled in”). As stated, scheduling is imperative and sometimes this means placing dinner with a friend or time at a friend’s house on your calendar as well. As you get older, spontaneity and randomness does too!
Prioritizing is necessary not only for items that are time sensitive and important but also for mental breaks and self-care. When there is an area of your life that is going to take significant time and effort, thus creating unbalance, prioritize self-care to reduce feeling of anxiousness.
Acknowledging when balance is/will be off can provide much understanding from others as well. Informing your spouse that work will be “crazy” for the next week provides up front communication and expectations for limited time together.
Be careful, don’t overwhelm yourself on purpose seeking to create balance!
LaTanya Moore, Ph.D, is an Implementation Specialist at FPG Child Development Institute/UNC Chapel Hill. She provides active implementation support at the community and coalition levels. Before joining FPG, Dr. Moore served as Clinical Director of a mental health organization, where she was influential in implementation and sustainability of enhanced mental health programs. Dr. Moore completed her Ph.D. at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Organizational Leadership. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in North Carolina and is an active member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Dr. Moore is the creator of "Driving My Dreams" goal setting and strategic planning webinar series. The series assists with intentional goal setting and action planning, creating a shift in mindset to align with skillset. Through the series, Dr. Moore becomes your accountability partner, providing strategic check ins and resources for success. Building networks, challenging adverse thoughts, and building momentum for progress are also objectives for the course. To learn more about/sign up for “Driving My Dreams”. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Instagram @thedrmoore
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Bottom Photo: Tanisha Walker (In God's Image Photography)
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