Balance is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Yet despite its widespread use, many people have only a vague sense of what it means and how to achieve it. We grasp at straws trying to define what it is.
Naturally, in our attempts to define balance we reference the dictionary and find it defined as the state of being equally weighted on both sides. When we think about balance in our lives, this definition seems too simplistic to really be helpful.
Redefine to Create
The dictionary definition of balance is based on the idea that there are equal weights on each side. This is not at all how things work in our lives. We all have many different aspects to our lives and none of them are equal. Our careers, relationships, health, finances, time with friends and family—these are all very different things that have different weights.
It's no wonder why, for many of us, balance feels unattainable.
Balance is not a state of being. It’s not static, but dynamic. Balance is an active process that we must constantly work on to maintain. We need to continue to reassess our lives based on where we are in each area, what we want out of them (and why), how they impact one another and that is when we can successfully reenter ourselves and find some much needed balance. We also have to remember that our balance will evolve because as we go through life, our wants and needs will change.
Imbalance often manifests itself through various signs and symptoms. It could be chronic stress, burnout, strained relationships, a constant feeling of being overwhelmed, or feelings of loneliness. In our busy lives, it can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks. The demands on our time and attention make it impossible to think about anything beyond the immediate issues of the day. We go through our days on autopilot, doing what needs to be done without much thought and completely neglect our needs and wants. When we’re living this way, life becomes a series of never ending tasks and can feel off-kilter. We feel frustrated, burdened by responsibilities and obligations that seem impossible to fulfill. Ultimately, we end up shutting down or becoming extremely frustrated where we feel no longer ourselves.
Prioritize your well-being. Commit to being your strongest advocate and your own best friend.
Four Fundamental Areas for Creating Balance
I firmly believe there are four fundamental areas for creating and maintaining balance. These areas are Serenity, Strength, Love, and Life. They serve to address your emotional, mental and physical needs.
Serenity encourages taking time for yourself. It embodies anything that brings you peace and makes you feel calm. This can range from reading a book, hobbies, being with nature, painting, even exercise.
Strength encourages movement and action. Physical movement enhances mental stability and strength while alleviating stress and releasing unwanted emotions. It embodies taking care of your body in ways beyond your physical fitness goals.
Love embodies all healthy relationships with family, life partners, and friends. Making time for those who you love and make you feel full. Love encourages connection.
Life embodies assessment and reflection. Exploring work life balance. Identifying your passions, your calling. It encourages us to work towards progress not perfection.
Mind the gap
Minding the gap simply means you’re paying attention to where your energies are disproportionately being spent and where there are gaps. These gaps are the areas that are being neglected, the areas that need your attention.
Balance through tuning into the self
It’s easy to write off “tuning into the self" as a fluffy, new-agey concept. But it’s much more than that and can be incredibly powerful in helping you create the balance you need. Self-Scanning is the process of tuning into the self and can be done in a matter of minutes. This process involves looking inward, conducting a full body and soul scan. As you scan, you gradually move through the four fundamental areas of balance. This will help you determine whether or not you're spending too much energy in one area and not enough in others. By tuning into the self, you’re taking inventory of the gaps and getting a more holistic view of yourself and what areas need nurturing.
Protect your space
This is a critical step. Protecting your space is the process of taking action once you’ve completed your self scan. Taking the information you’ve gathered from your self scan, create the environment you need to be able to properly care for the areas that are lacking in your life. Prioritize your well-being. Commit to being your strongest advocate and your own best friend.
Balance is not a state of being. It’s not static, but dynamic. Balance is an active process that we must constantly work on to maintain.
Learning to say no when necessary, not overcommitting ourselves is essential, or at the bare minimum finding ways to compromise in certain situations where you are not completely sacrificing yourself. We need to be mindful of our limits and avoid taking on more than we can handle. By setting boundaries, we create space for what truly matters and ensure that we have time for ourselves and our loved ones.
Surround yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, or even professional help if needed. Share your challenges, seek advice, and lean on your support system when necessary. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can provide invaluable insights and help us regain our balance.
Finding Your Own Definition
Balance is possible. Balance is not about ensuring all the areas in our lives are attended to equally. Instead, balance is about identifying the areas in your life that are lacking and making sure we don't neglect these areas. It's about becoming in tune with ourselves enough to know what areas in our lives need our care and making the adjustments accordingly. We are not whole unless we engage ourselves fully, mind, body and heart.