We got great feedback from readers of our column that recently appeared on Inside Halton, so we’re reposting it here. Enjoy!
“A healthy balance” – a term often heard when discussing mental health and wellness. But what does it really mean? What is “balance” and what makes it “healthy”?
Think about the number of things we manage in our lives on a regular basis – caring for ourselves, family, friends, hobbies, work, physical health, spirituality, thoughts, feelings…the list goes on and on. Balance means giving the right amount of time and effort to each one of these to maximize our well-being.
Imagine that it’s a busy time at work and we’re working more hours for a few days – that will take away time that we would normally devote to other areas of our life. It may lead to us feeling spread thin and missing things that we would usually do. While we can manage being out of balance like this for a short time, doing it for too long can have more major impacts on our wellness, and we may find ourselves feeling resentful, extra stressed, anxious, down, and exhausted.
A “healthy balance” will be different for every one of us. Think of it as a pie – we each have one that represents all of our time, and the size of each slice of pie will vary from person to person. Maybe I like socializing more than you do, so time with friends and family will be a larger slice of my pie. Or maybe there’s a slice of your pie that I don’t have at all because it’s not key to my personal balance.
We need to choose how we slice our pie carefully and pay attention to how it affects us. Say we choose to skip going for a walk for today and have a much-needed nap instead…if we’re feeling a bit worn down, listening to our bodies and getting extra sleep may be key to our balance today. But if we skip that walk for a few days and are starting to feel a bit sluggish and restless, we need to think about slicing the pie differently and making time for some exercise.
Each day doesn’t need to be identical – it needs to address our needs at that particular time. Key to identifying this is checking in with our thoughts, feelings, and bodies to recognize signs that we need to rejig how we’re spending our time. Then it’s about giving ourselves permission to do just that and re-establish our healthy balance.