With the stresses of the modern world, it can be difficult to maintain balance in our lives. Different events can pluck away at our harmony and cause a snowball effect. Life is inherently stressful so it is important to have tools to help rebalance your life.
According to the Merriam, balance is defined as, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” So how do we accomplish this?
1 Sleep Right
2 Eat Right
3 Exercise Right
4 Meditate and Practice Awareness
5 Connect with Nature and People
Sleeping is healing and the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night to recover from the daily grind. If you are not getting this amount, it can cause many issues from weight gain to fatigue (and much more).
Give yourself one hour free of electronic screens before getting ready to hit the hay. This way, you aren’t tricking your brain into thinking it is still daylight, and can ease into a gentle night of recovery. Don’t think you can collect a balance and catch up on the weekends – it will not be the healthy balanced approach.
Our generation has become so unbalanced when it comes to food since we are disconnected from where our food actually comes from. Food does not magically appear on a bun in a perfectly symmetrical shape!
You are what you eat EATS!
Eat the way your great grandparents ate. They would eat with the seasons which put them directly in balance with the cycles of the earth. They ate locally and did not eat any processed foods (didn’t exist yet). They produced their own produce, cooked with real butter/lard, and were aware of the food chain and how energy moves up it. You don’t have to start your own farm, but you can always make better wholesome food choices.
By feeding the body healthy wholesome food, it can respond better to daily stresses. The cells of the body are constantly turning over and utilize the food you eat to make these new cells. If the new cells consist of the best quality chemicals possible, then the body can perform at its highest potential and keep a homeostasis. If diet is poor, then the body can manifest this imbalance with disease and being “out of shape”. This can go either way – to excess or deficiency.
Start cooking your own food, shopping at local farmer’s markets,eating only sustainably raised animals fed a natural diet, and staying away from processed foods. Make sure to always look at nutrition labels!! If you can’t comprehend an ingredient, you should not be consuming that food. Enjoy your food, think about where it came from, and appreciate the lives and energy it took to bring you your subsistence.
The body was made to move and disease manifests to those who do not utilize their bodies. Exercise is controlled stress. The body feels the stress and then repairs and comes back stronger while we sleep. Ironically, this controlled stress helps to relieve stress in your life – allowing you to think more clearly.
Exercise does not necessarily mean driving to your neighborhood box with weights in it! It is important to develop a relationship with your own body and to listen to what it needs.
Some days can be very stressful and it would not be wise to cause more stress by lifting heavy weights. These are the days you go for a long walk or brisk jog, garden, do yoga or tai chi, or do a body-weight routine to get the blood pumping without causing further harm to the body. What is important is that you are moving and utilizing your body!
Everything under your bag of skin is inter-connected so if the body is in top performance, then this can allow your mind/brain to perform at a higher level. Take care of the one vehicle you will always have in life – your body! The stock market can crash or your house can burn down, but you will always have your mind and body. A strong body will always overcome stresses with greater ease than an out of shape one.
Practicing Awareness/Mindfulness and Meditation
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” Your whole perception of the world can let you live in the kingdom of heaven or let you rot in the depths of hell. It is all a choice and it is important to practice awareness so you can be conscious of the way your mind works. Learn to love and understand yourself – there is only one of you and only you can bring about your self-realization.
Most of the time, people are swirling thoughts of the past or worrying about the future. It’s important to watch these thoughts and to not get caught up in the whirlwind of fear, but to just watch them float by like clouds. There is a real perception switch when you are living in the present and not being blown around by mind thoughts. When you notice you’re getting caught in thought – notice your breath. It is more than likely only coming from your chest. Take some deep breaths and change your breathing pattern to come from deep diaphragmatic belly breaths.
Realize everything in life is ephemeral, and to not get attached to the pseudo-permanence of things. The only thing constant in life is change! Realizing this fact can alleviate pointless suffering. Along with this, it is important to appreciate things while they are in our life because they will not always be there or at least in the current state that they are (relationships, people, material objects, our own bodies).
There are seasons of life just like seasons of earth. It is okay to not always be happy and warm (summer) and to have moments of cold and despair (winter) which can bring wonderful insights.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Connect with People and Nature
Humans are a social species. Our very survival use to depend on large numbers of people working together. Everyone feels lonely at times in their lives, but chronic loneliness poses a serious health risk. Perceived loneliness can actually kill you! Science can back this up – Studies have shown that isolation is a risk factor for early mortality.
Most people no longer live in communities like we did in the past. We separate ourselves into our independent boxes. Therefore, it is important to find groups of people that share similar interests and values to help give us a more fulfilling life. With the internet, it is very easy to find these “tribes”. More importantly, once you find these groups, whether be shared hobbies, activities, or philosophies – that there is actual face-to-face interaction.
In addition, it is important to go out in nature to find balance. In nature, life has to “naturally” balance itself out and this environment can rub off on us. It is peaceful, alive with activity, and can affect our brain chemistry. Studies have shown that being in nature improves cognitive gains and mood.
In my personal life, I have always used nature as a way to balance myself out. If I am stressed, depressed, or anxious I will go for a hike in the woods – It has never failed me!
I like to think of our bodies as a stringed instrument. If you imagine a guitar with a string that is bound too tight – it produces a disharmonious sound.
However, if we can release that tension and bring it back to its natural pitch, the string produces a beautiful vibration that others can hear and feel.
Likewise, if a string is too lose and flat – it wont produce any music. It is all about finding the balance!
Suggested Readings: Tao Te Ching and Man’s Search for Meaning