As a (mostly) single parent to my two now adult children, I have spent most of my professional career working two jobs, seven days a week. When my kids were in middle and high school, I actually taught, was the head varsity coach for multiple sports, and worked as a bartender on the weekends. Even now, I still work as an educator and a bartender – insert the myriad of jokes I’ve heard about this here. In all seriousness though, I think the one question that I am asked the most when people hear about my work hours is, “How do you do it?” The answer I always give is, “It’s about finding balance.”
The phrase “finding balance” is used quite a bit these days. Just google the term and the hits that pop up vary from websites that have the term in their name to articles, books, and counseling services all designed to help you find balance. However, I cannot emphasize enough how important this concept of balance is to your overall mental and even physical well-being. Our lives are comprised of three distinct aspects: body, spirit, and soul. Just as a 3-legged stool requires all the legs to be of equal length and spacing in order to provide secure seating, our lives require these three aspects to be equally tended to in order to feel that balance we all desire.
- Body: Our physical body needs proper care in order to stay healthy and feel well. Eating well, drinking enough water daily, getting exercise, and allowing time for rest are all necessary for our health and well-being. However, don’t feel pressured to follow the latest fads or do something just because everyone else is doing it. The only way you will be successful in taking care of your physical body is if you find what works for you. I honestly have never followed any particular dietary plan such as paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, or the like. However, I tell people all the time that I try to balance out my bad choices. I love food, and I love to eat. Trying to restrict myself to a certain dietary plan is a sure fire way to set myself up for failure and negative feelings about myself. Therefore, if I want pizza or a bacon cheeseburger, I’m going to eat it. But then I’m also going to decide to do that burger without the bun, skip the ice cream that day, or run a few extra miles. In regards to exercise, you absolutely must find what works for you. Can’t stand going to a traditional gym? Do you dread the thought of going out for a run? That’s okay. You can go for a walk or a bike ride instead. Maybe playing tennis or golf is more your thing. Take a dance class or join a recreational league and try something new. Whatever you set out to do, the more enjoyable you feel it is, the more you will consistently engage in that activity – and ultimately that consistency is what matters the most.
- Soul: Another added benefit of finding physical activities that we are passionate about is that is one way we can in turn feed our souls. Our soul consists of our emotions, our heart, our mental selves. We need to find out what we love and dedicate time to that. Creating art, listening to music, curling up with a good book, watching our favorite TV show, volunteering for a favorite cause, spending quality time with our family members and friends – these are all ways we can feed our souls. Just as you have to find physical activities that you enjoy in order to ensure you will engage in them consistently, you need to determine what activities make you feel the most alive and allow yourself the time to participate in them.
- Spirit: This word means different things to different people. Simply put, our spirit is that part of us that is in tune with something outside of ourselves. It is the connection we feel to other living beings and to life outside of us. Finding balance here means that you are taking time to nurture that connection in ways that are personally meaningful to you. It could be through attending church or synagogue, prayer, meditation, or practicing whatever your faith is in whatever way you choose.
The common denominator in all this is that you have to find what works for you. Just because I love running and yoga, spending time with my family, and attend church on Sundays doesn’t mean that is what is going to balance out your life. You might have bad knees, are estranged from your family, and are an atheist. The principles don’t change, though. Until the legs of your stool are evened out, you will continue to feel wobbly. If that is your situation right now, feel free to contact me directly as I would love to help you in your quest for balance. Together, we can help you build your best stool.