Sometimes life gets away from you. Situations happen where all your focus is gathered on certain area in your life. Unfortunately, if the focus stays too long, the other areas in your life can suffer. It’s all one big holistic Venn diagram.
The varied areas of our life are all linked in some way. What affects our physical body can affect our mental body much like a person that is in chronic pain, developing anxiety or depression, or an individual with emotional trauma, feeling sick to their stomach. The extended attention to one variable affects our relationships, personal life and job, as well.
Kelly Spencer – Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
So how do we keep the scales of self-care balanced?
Over the last few months I have been working hard to edit, design and publish four books that will be coming out this fall. It has been many years in the process and the final moments of completion are near but require a lot of my attention and commitment. I have a couple of guest-speaking and teaching events soon on Mindfulness for Students and Corporate Mindfulness. My wellness centre has been on summer laze but this week we restart all our regular classes requiring much organization. My organic Eatery has three catering events this month. And while this is all fantastic and exciting, it has created an imbalance in many areas of my life.
This week I noticed that my body was suffering. I had taught six yoga classes this week but had not taken time to do my own practice. My back and shoulders were tight from the physical, mental and emotional stress in my life, no matter how exciting. My hips and low back were tight from so much sitting and planning. I was not drinking enough water and the dehydration had created some constipation. I was skipping meals and then over-eating with bad choices. A trip to the grocery store hadn’t happened for awhile so take-out food was my staple for several days. My stomach was acidic.
Accompanied with probable elevated stress hormones (i.e. cortisol), I had gained a few pounds. My body was imbalanced and very annoyed with my lack of self-care.
My home was messy. I had a small suitcase sitting in the corner of my bedroom that was still unpacked from a short getaway two weeks ago. My vegetable garden was overcome with weeds. I had run out of dish soap so had to use some shampoo to wash some pots and pans. I hadn’t seen some of the important people in my life for quite some time and I was feeling their lack of presence in my world.
No doubt about it, the scales had tipped in an unhealthy and perilous imbalance.
Although this new career excitement was fresh, this wasn’t the first-time imbalance in my life had affected other areas adversely. When my father was sick and eventually crossed over five years ago, it consumed me. While he was in the hospital, I spent every day with him as I held the title as his “favorite nurse” with pride. Sometimes I would even sneak into his room after hours and help adjust his pillows just right, so he was in better comfort. Although I wouldn’t have had it any other way, unfortunately my health suffered as did attention to my home and business.
Sometimes we don’t have a choice. Our attention and focus are needed in one specific area. So how do we bring balance back to all the other areas of our lives?
1. Know when you are imbalanced. Mindfulness teaches us to bring as much awareness to the present moment as we can by taking inventory of all the layers of our lives. If we have been consumed, so be it. Rather than judging yourself for the consumption, start in this moment. How do you feel right now? Where are you imbalanced? What areas have been ignored?
2. Turn off and tune out. Allow yourself to slow down to speed up. Take some time to hit the reset switch. If you have kids, get the other parent or a family member to watch them or take a day off work. I gave myself permission to sleep in, and spend a morning lollygagging, dilly-dallying and meandering. I read magazines while sipping my coffee, had a hot bath, laid on my bed and played with my dogs. Allow your nervous system and obsessive thoughts to take a well-deserved break.
3. Go within. Once you have allowed yourself permission to chill out, go within. Where do you need to re-balance first? What do you need to do to get back to a place of alignment? Meditate, contemplate, journal, pray or whatever works for you. But allow yourself to inquire within, what and how you need to find your balance? To prioritize, ask yourself: “What do I want right now?” “What do I need right now?”
4. Take action. After some downtime and stillness, my answers came to me clearly and I began to plan. I went shopping for dish soap and bought healthy fresh organic food and created a meal-plan. I set an hourly alarm on my phone to remind me with each recurring chime to drink water and set a mindful plan of how I wanted my next hour to intentionally feel and what I needed to accomplish. I did my own yoga practice. I got out in nature which always helps me feel grounded and I weeded my garden. I had dinner and drinks with one of my besties. I made a plan to see my daughter. I cleaned my house and finally emptied that darn suitcase.
5. Reflect. I had the opportunity to get a lot done in one weekend. The areas I was not able to bring balance I implemented a plan. One area ended up not as important as it seemed when I was full of stress from the accumulation of all areas, so I let it go for now. At the end of the day, it’s important to reflect. Where did I get it right? Where have I created more balance? Where can I feel gratitude for accomplishing? After doing the above steps, perspectives can shift, so reflection is helpful to attain further equilibrium.
Self-care starts with recognition and acceptance of this moment. Mindful self-leadership and emotional intelligence can shift the scales, creating balance in all areas of our lives.
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