Let’s face it, life can get pretty hectic at any given moment. Just when you seem to think that all is well, something pops out of the blue to hit you smack dab in the middle of the throat. Yup, life can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but it’s these ups and downs, swerves and curves that help us appreciate all of the beauty in life. We should all be seizing the day, but it can be a little hard to do when most people put themselves at the bottom of the priority list.
As I plan a major move to a new city in three weeks, I find myself being torn in what feels like a million different directions. I have to pack up our jam packed bungalow, find a new dwelling in Chicago, continue with my clients and the work that I do here, search for new work opportunities in my new home town, over-think the unknown, spend time with family and friends before I go, plan my sister’s baby shower, prepare for my April trip to Europe, keep my standing appointments at the gym, continue eating well, take the time to shop organic, keep cooking healthy meals, read up on all of my fave blogs and of course also find the time to research and write on this lovely blog. Whew, it’s exhausting just to think about it all, but at the end of the day I’m be happy to know I tried my best to keep the balance in my life by not compromising on the things that are really important to me.
To me, finding balance means that you have a handle on the the various elements in your life and don’t feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any one direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated when you are able to find the balance between all the elements of your life. Finding that balance can be a key to minimizing anxiety, sadness, body image concerns, work difficulties & relationship issues to feel balanced, peaceful & empowered.
How do I find my balance?
I try to think about balancing the internal and external elements of life that require the most balancing. Usually people focus on one more than the other. For example, if you find that you focus on external things like work, relationships, and activities, and that you pay very little attention to what is going on inside your heart and mind and what you really want, you may start to have feelings of anxiety and depression. On the other hand, if you spend too much time being self reflective, you may sometimes miss out on the experience of living, creating others feelings of depression. Putting yourself first and minding your diet, in addition to being cognizant of the Internal and External elements of a balanced life are key to feeling like you are the master of your own domain.
For me, the key component to gaining better balance in my life, is to balance my perception of what is stressing me out at the moment. How do I do balance this perception? Well I do that by eating properly and trying to not restrict my diet. Food restriction can lead to bigger emotional responses, poor concentration, increased stress, and an overall lower sense of well-being. Depression has been shown to develop in people with disordered eating who frequently restrict food. If I am missing the correct nutrients in my diet, I find it hard to manage my moods and my perception of what actually needs to be done in my life. I’m not saying that you should gorge on food and eat everything and anything, but once my diet and nutrition are on track I feel invincible!
It also helps to look at my life objectively and consider the Internal and External elements that make up daily life:
The Internal elements of life are the Mind, Heart and Health. The Mind can mean challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to rest. The Heart element is the balance of giving love vs. receiving love. The Health component pertains to eating, drinking and exercising properly vs. resting and treating yourself to some extra indulgences.
When you take a closer look, you notice that both ends of each spectrum are actually positive; It’s just that if either side is taken to an extreme, something that is intended to be positive may end up being detrimental to your peace of mind. It’s helpful to check in with yourself to see if you feel balanced. The same is true for the External elements.
The External elements of life are Work, Social, Family and Fun. The Work component is about pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the ride. The Social component is about satisfying your social desires vs. taking time for yourself. Family means fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries and the Fun component can be about allocating time for enjoyment vs. making sure you don’t overdo it on the partying.
If you feel pulled in any one direction and uneasy about it, these steps may help you get your life realigned:
1. Acknowledge the issues by really looking at your life and how you’re feeling.
2. Set goals for how you want to feel and what things you want to do.
3. Make a list of what you have to do to achieve those goals. Make that list specific, and include daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
4. Be reflective and stay positive. Nothing happens overnight, so take the time to think about the feelings that arise and be kind to yourself.
5. Surround yourself with those that help and motivate you. Try to minimize the time you spend with the negative people in your life.
6. Take time and follow through with your list. A good plan will take about 3 months to work.
and finally back again to this very important point…
7. Nourish your body. No amount of planning and goal setting can make up for the physiological and mental effects that a poor diet can have on the way you feel, your health status and the way you look. You may be more than capable of balancing all that is going on in your life, but if you have any nutritional imbalances, you may be experiencing a lack of energy to handle all of life’s crap. You may be too depressed to to even see the positives in life and no list is going to fix the effects that a dietary imbalance has on your brain and judgement.
Nutrients That Your Body Needs
Your body requires 6 macronutrients each and every day; These are Water, Fats, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Vitamins and Minerals. If your body is off target with its requirements of any of these macronutrients, you could very well be making yourself more prone to depression. There are a number of nutritional imbalances that can make you prone to depression such as: Being low on Essential fats (you may need more Omega 3), if your Homocysteine levels are too high or low (can be corrected with B vitamins), Serotonin levels may need boosting with amino acids,
Blood sugar balance may be off and being low on levels of the nutrients chromium and Vitamin D.
I really try to be self reflective in everything I do. I want to be a better person and friend, and sometimes I can be a total spaz of a person because I over think and over analyze everything. Following a systematic plan really helps me. I am not a doctor, I am not a nutritionist, but I know that how I feel can be a result of what I eat. Food and the chemicals in our brains interact to keep us going throughout the day. It is important to eat a variety of healthy foods, as they have different effects on our brains. For example, carbohydrates increase serotonin, a brain chemical that has a calming effect. Protein-rich foods are known to increase tyrosine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help to increase alertness. In addition, certain healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) become part of the membranes of brain cells and control many brain processes. Poor nutrition or lack of a variety of healthy foods can contribute to depression by limiting the availability of these specific nutrients. Being armed with the best nutrition allows me to approach all of life’s stresses with better clarity and optimism. I follow lists better and I am actually willing to listen to advice, helping me live better, happier, and with more balance in my life.
To being Positively Strong,