The near pathological eating of sugary carbohydrates is the first sign of my life being out of balance. As soon as an entire loaf of chocolate chip banana bread mysteriously ends up in my stomach without my noticing, I know it’s time to check in with myself. I’ve found four questions that help me figure out what’s out of whack and direct me to get back in gear:
Are my goals in balance?
Are my values in balance?
Is my energy in balance?
Is my time in balance?
1) Goals: Is there a balance between my focus on future goals and my gratitude for the present? I ask myself: what would I trade for a million dollars? My arms? Legs? Child? Dog? Vision? If I wouldn’t trade, I need to take time to be grateful for it.
2) Values: Is there a balance between my core values and the reality of my life? If I care about exercise or cooking, for example, and I’ve eaten out and haven’t been to the gym in weeks, I’m going to feel that….
3) Energy: Is the energy I’m expending matched with the energy coming in? Think of a child’s see saw – how much of my day actually GIVES me energy vs. just sucking it out?
4) Time: Is there a sane, health-affirming balance in how my time is spent? I Imagine a pie cut in eight slices, with each slice between a “non-negotiable” in my life, e.g., sleeping, eating, time with family, work, time alone, volunteering, exercising …Are the pie slices sized right to keep me happy or do I need to re-size the slices to fit better with what I need? If I have a huge pie slice for work and exercise, but I’m not balancing that with good nutrition and sleep, I have a problem.
Stress THRIVES in the imbalance of these concepts. The more imbalance there is, the more stress seeps in to our lives and sabotages our efforts to stay emotionally and physically healthy. The key is to periodically check in with these areas of our lives. They will not all be 100% balanced all the time, but they can’t stay out of balance for too long either. Look at your see-saw? How are you doing? Pick one thing, in one area, and make a commitment to get a bit more balance.
Debbie Granick is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a Therapist in Raleigh providing both counseling and medication to reduce anxiety and depression and improve mental health. She is available to speak about wellness to groups of all sizes.