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The Secret to Eternal Health: the Art of Balance

Updated on March 15, 2010

How do we find balance?

 

When everything is difficult, where do we look? Who will help us? How can we help ourselves?

 

Balance is the state of harmony we experience when we are not over-extending ourselves in one direction. Too much work will leave us out of balance. Similarly, too much play will do the same. But how do we find our own sense of balance? What are the clues?

 

In my own life, I can sense that I am out of balance when my thoughts start to race. Suddenly, I am not having fun. Everything is very serious! Maybe I snapped and yelled at someone who probably didn’t deserve it (as was the case today). Although it is difficult to accept, such an outburst can really be a helpful signpost.

 

If you pay attention to your body, your signs of distress will become apparent to you. Your body is a great teacher if you take the time to listen to it.

Checking in with yourself

Sometimes it takes freaking out at work (as was the case with me today) to make me realize that I need to check in with myself and have a bit of “me time.” Sometimes we need to get as far as we can from other people for a few minutes and collect our thoughts. That's what I did today.

After I calmed down, I apologized. But I’m not really sorry that I had my freak-out. After all, it was the freak-out that helped me realize I was out of balance. The mind plays tricks on us, and would have us believe we are fine when we are not. But flipping out helped me realize that I needed to take a few breaths and check in with myself.

Building healthy coping skills

 

Stress, even tiny stressors, accumulate over time. If stress is not processed in a healthy way, the body and mind become run down and dysfunctional.

 

As a social worker in training, I have become attuned to the usefulness of coping skills. Coping skills are healthy ways of dealing with stress. The classic example would be counting to ten (or counting your breaths to ten.) When I first started learning about coping skills, I thought, “wow, this will really help my clients!” But coping skills are a necessity for everyone, including me.

 

A healthy support group is also a key coping mechanism. Who can you talk to that will respect your feelings? Who will honor the fact that you’re upset without forcing advice down your throat? In other words, who will let you be upset, and just be there for you? When you find these people, cherish them. And call them when you’re upset!

 

There are other helpful coping mechanisms, such as taking a walk, listening to music, or playing sports. A good way to measure whether your coping mechanism is healthy is to ask yourself, “am I running away from my problem, or am I taking the time to process it?” Be patient and your answer will come.

Balancing helping other with helping yourself

Some people love to help others. This can be very rewarding. But if you are one of those people, you also need to be careful. If you only help others, you will become burned out. Taking care of other people is gratifying, but it’s also stressful. You need to make sure that you have an appropriate release for your stress, and that you allow yourself the proper amount of time to rest.

 

If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others for long. As good as your heart may be, you will eventually become resentful. You will think “I am spending all of my time taking care of everyone, and they take me for granted! Why doesn’t anyone take care of me?!” That’s why it’s so important that enjoy your own life! You may be surprised to see how much other people will enjoy being around you as you continue to cultivate your own joys.

Final thoughts

Dance! Sing! Be goofy, draw a picture, take a nap, wander aimlessly, or cook yourself a nice meal. The key to being in balance is taking the time to take care of yourself. Take some deep breaths. And don’t forget to remember: the only moment is this moment.

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    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks so much Nellianna! You made some really great points, and I believe I agree with all of them. With regard to looking at people as cases, that is a very important topic when working with people, and I'm glad you highlighted it. Thanks :)

      -Adam

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      Really excellent, AdamGee! Useful subject! Well-presented!

      Balance is a state of being I've quested for over my life. I'm aware that I tend to be a bit obsessive so it's easy to get off on a project or passion and forget about everything else. It's exhirerating, though - not a negative thing.

      My clue is that other things become neglected, so I can realize my efforts are out of balance. Fortunately, being well-aware of my body & overall well-being, I self-adjust if it's getting too far afield.

      During this long life of being me - haha ;) - I've learned to be super-aware & realistic. One can't deal with illusions. It's necessary to be honest with oneself, first of all, & to be willing to make corrections where needed.

      Not to be overlooked, though, is another factor: that the tendency can be applied to accomplish phenomenal feats in a pinch; it's not all a "bad" trait to be able to perservere intensely. Perhaps it's a bit like the rush of adrenilin which allows people to do super-human feats in emergencies. It may leave them exhausted, but there's no denying that the results are awesome!

      I've also learned is to like and accept myself the way I am. I believe it's a vital factor in good health to have confidence in one's individuality, so long as one also takes the responsibiity for one's peculiarities.

      Perhaps that's a factor sometimes overlooked by care-givers and help professionals, for whom it's tempting, I suppose, to think of people as cases.

      But you sound like a person who will always listen to them & bear in mind that they're indiviuals who know themselves -or at least, have great potential TO know themselves.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Sandyspider: Thanks!

      Georgiana: That's really cool that you are able to do that! It can very difficult to be consistent in seeking balance, so I commend you :) And thanks for the compliment!

    • profile image

      Georgiana85 

      8 years ago

      Yes...I actually follow some of the ideas you have outputted in the hub for a longer time and I see the benefits.

      Another good one by AdamGee :)

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Interesting hub.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Sage :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      8 years ago

      Very informative and well written hub. You offer a lot of good suggestions. I really enjoyed reading this hub. The videos were a plus as well.

      Great Job and Welcome to HubPages!

      Sage

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