I’ve often heard people say that they would be happy if only their stress went away. The thing is, stress will never go away. Struggle is a huge part of life – a potentially growthful part of life. To be without stress, is to not exist at all.
This worries us because sometimes we are overwhelmed by the pressures of our lives. Our bodies respond to deadlines, traffic, demanding bosses, invasive family members, pollution, noise and junk food. Stress upon stress upon stress. We tense up, we experience aches and pains, illness. Our relationships struggle – we just can’t seem to understand each other. Life seems an uphill battle and all we want to do is lie down and roll backwards.
Che vita, che vita…
Life can be hard. But it is harder when we don’t self-balance. Self-balancing means to create a sense of fairness between our stressors and our pleasures. We have a lot of responsibilities and we can’t fulfil these tasks properly if we do not rest, recover and revive. Many of us wake up still tired from the day before, or fill our weekends with so much to catch up on that we walk into work on Mondays feeling wiped out. The over-production culture that we live in is not doing us any good. We need to stop waiting for some major societal movement to save us. This go-go-go mentality won’t change, unless we do.
I’ve got no more love to give…
Without self-balancing, it is very difficult to be loving and compassionate with others. This is because we do not take any time to give compassion to ourselves. Unless we sit with ourselves for a little bit, we are never quite sure how we really feel about things. When we cannot connect with our own emotions, it is almost impossible to connect with the emotions of others.
Taking time to rest may feel self-indulgent to some, but without taking the time to do this, you will easily miss your needs. When we rush, we often find ourselves feeling anxious, dissatisfied, impatient, judgmental and critical of ourselves and others. Do you see that unless you slow down, it is very difficult to feel peaceful?
Part of our over-production mentality stems from our innate belief that we must be successful in every way. We strive for perfection. But, you know, perfection is a myth, and no great revelations came to people running around in a frantic state. Epiphanies and soulful truths come to us when we are quiet.
What is the purpose of resting, anyway?
To be fully present in life, you must take time to get in touch with you. You must settle into your body to feel your emotions, your physical state, and to calm your thoughts. A calm mind can’t exist within a body that is in overdrive. Sometimes I think we forget that we live in human bodies. We plan our days and weeks as if we are floating consciousnesses, with no physical restraints to slow us down. Unfortunately…or fortunately, our physical limits are very real, and if we don’t listen to our bodies for these cues, we don’t meet our needs and we end up paying for it.
So how can I relax?? Tell me!!
Everyone is different, so there is no one-size fits all method to self-balancing. I propose: you grab a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and title one of the sides: Nourishing, and the other side: Draining. Now write down any activities that come to your mind for both sides.
Examples for the nourishing side (and only include these if you really do find them relaxing and re-energising):
- going out for coffee with my partner
- having a cup of tea in bed before I begin my day
- lighting candles when I get home in the evening
- a warm shower
- a hot water bottle and a good book
- a funny movie
- a football match with friends
- a long walk
- time with my family
- a chat with mum
- meditating/saying a prayer
- dinner out with friends
- cuddling my dog
- having my nails done
Examples of the draining side (these are activities that don’t serve you; ones that make you feel stressed and tired):
- being in the car for longer than an hour
- staying up late to watch tv
- compulsively eating junk food and feeling guilty about it after
- going to gym classes I hate just because I feel like I should
- doing favours for people who don’t even say thank you
- working non-stop, just to wake up and do the same thing again
- wearing uncomfortable clothes
- going out with friends who only talk about themselves
- being around people who shout a lot
- listening to loud music
- arguing with my partner about little things
Notice how, things I’ve listed on the nourishing side, you could find draining, and vice versa.
Now, after you’ve written these lists, make a promise to yourself to do at least one nourishing activity every day.
It is important to become aware of what activities restore your energy and which deplete it. This way you can support yourself better by re-energising when you need a boost, and avoiding draining activities when you’re running low.
“Secure your mask first, and then assist the other person”
The goal of self-balancing is not to eradicate stress, but to take some time out, so that we are better able to cope with it and so that it does not have such a damaging impact on our lives.
During safety announcements on planes, we’re told to put on our own oxygen mask first. Consider self-balancing to be your oxygen mask. When you can breathe, you can help someone else to put on their oxygen mask too.
Let me know what your favourite methods of self-balancing are in the comment box below. And please like and share this article to encourage more people to self-balance.