“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” – Epicurus
Balance, when one is talking about their lifestyle, is one of those concepts that is really hard to nail down and define. Most people who are active physically and are concerned about their wellness often strive for a balance in their life without delving into what the word balance really means. In practice, however, it frequently becomes an all or nothing pursuit that eventually tips too much in the direction of hedonism or excess. People start off in their wellness plan with good intentions, but inadvertently set themselves up for failure as they strive for perfection. Perfection, unfortunately, does not exist and when a person realizes that, they usually give up on some very important components of their wellness plan or scrap the whole thing together.
In seeking balance, or anything else in life, people have to remember that perfection does not exist. It is an ideal to strive for, something that does not exist in reality, a journey rather than a destination. Nothing is ever truly in the state of balance, everything in the physical world and in person’s life is constantly in a state of flux. A balanced lifestyle must include elements that are healthy and good, while maintaining control of things that are less than perfect or even undesirable. Realizing and accepting this is one of the keys maintaining a solid, sustainable and balanced wellness plan.
“Wellness is the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. There are two focal concerns: the realization of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings.” – The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization definition of wellness is very thorough and comprehensive, breaking wellness down into five basic components. In putting together your own wellness plan, consider the five areas that they have identified:
⦁ Exercise-Rest. If you are going to be sustaining physical exercise as part of your lifestyle, you going to have to build in periods of rest and relaxation. Knowing when to back off, tone down, work around injuries, and build in recuperative activities is essential to sustaining this portion of your plan. Sets and reps are good, but don’t forget rest, ice, planned time off, and that occasional ibuprofen.
⦁ Moderate Eating-Occasional Indulgence. No one’s ever perfect when it comes to diet and you certainly won’t be the first one. If you are eating a balanced and healthy diet 80 to 90% of the time, you are on your way towards sustaining a wellness lifestyle over the long haul. Don’t think of yourself as being “on a diet,” think of yourself as eating healthy as often as you possibly can. This lowers the mental expectations and prevents you from catastrophizing that occasional cake and ice cream or sixpack that you consume. Don’t beat yourself up! Remember grasshopper, balance! See also http://mindbodycoach.org/8020-rulelots-times-life-seems-like-merely-spinning-wheels-getting-nowhere-seemingly-reason-can-identify-things-come-together-things-often-seem/
⦁ Resistance Exercise-Cardiovascular Exercise-Athletic Movement. Your exercise routine should have resistance work such as weight training, body weight exercises, resistance bands, etc. This is important at any age, but more important as something that you sustain over the lifespan. The importance of cardiovascular exercise does not even need to be explained, it’s that important. You should also find an activity that you do on a regular basis that makes you feel athletic. It can literally be athletic, such as yoga, martial arts, softball, basketball, or it can be something that gets you moving outside such as jogging, brisk walking, hiking, etc. It is very beneficial for everyone to think of themselves as being some type of athlete and to retain a competitiveness with yourself. The mental health benefits of this are probably more important than physical. See also http://mindbodycoach.org/preventing-shrinkage/ and http://mindbodycoach.org/ive-fallen-cant-get/
⦁ Mood. Being able to keep your mood in a state of balance is one of life’s keys to happiness. Not overreacting during times of sadness, anger, emotional pain, and loss is an incredible life skill for anyone to develop.
⦁ Self Awareness. Knowing what your values are and living a lifestyle that is consistent with those values creates that balanced emotional state that you’re looking for in your wellness plan. Knowing what’s important to you, whose important to you, and what you believe in and value, is the first step towards living a balanced life that is consistent with those values. Again, self-examination will show some inconsistencies now and again, but that’s okay. Remember, perfection doesn’t exist.
⦁ Self Talk. Trying to maintain a healthy and positive internal dialogue with yourself is the goal here. Learn to catch yourself during times of negativity and talk yourself into a more beneficial, realistic and positive mindset. Search this site for articles on cognitive behavioral therapy for help with this.
⦁ Family. If you have a family that you find supportive, nurturing, and worthy of your emotional investment, congratulations. You are one of life’s fortunate people. If you don’t, create one. Humans are social creatures, needing others for survival. In the 21st century, this survival is no longer physical, but emotional. We need meaningful interactions with others in order to feel whole. John Donne and Abraham Maslow were onto something here. See also http://mindbodycoach.org/going-tribal/
⦁ Work Colleagues. If you working a 40 hour week, then you’re probably spending more time with coworkers than some family members. While you certainly don’t have to have love and affection for your coworkers, it’s probably a good idea to be able to coexist with them. Working as a team with them, accepting them for their faults, and seeing their points of view, can make the work week a little more palatable. Hopefully, you’ll have coworkers that you really care about and consider to be friends. If not, work to accept them for what they are.
⦁ Acquaintances. These are the people that you see every day as you go about your normal routine. The person at the post office, the guy at the drive through window at the coffee shop, the doorman of your office, or that neighbor who heads off to work at the same time you do. A smile, friendly wave, or acknowledgment of their existence is probably more beneficial towards your wellness than theirs.
⦁ Significant Others. If you are involved in a relationship, keep in mind that that also must be kept in balance. Also keep in mind that the 50/50 ideal of relationships does not exist. The 50% mark is a line that one crosses based on which person is the most needy at that point in time. Relationships with spouses, romantic interests, and significant others are constantly changing. Sometimes one partner is giving 90% because the other needs it. For example, if your spouse is ill, then you are helping them and giving more than your 50%. If they are going through a difficult time emotionally, you support them because they need it and you care. If you feel a resentment towards them because of this, then examine the relationship and try to work through it. If you can’t work through it, then maybe it’s not a relationship you should be in. When it comes to significant others, remember the Karl Marx quote: “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”
⦁ Beliefs. What do you believe when it comes to ultimate questions? Where did we come from, where am I going, what becomes of me at death, is there a supreme being, divine intelligence, God etc. Many people live their lives ignoring the answer to these kinds of questions because of fear. Others, retain the beliefs of their childhood which came from organized religion and their parents. Some will study philosophies and religious traditions to find the answers that make sense to them. This aspect of a wellness plan is perhaps the most personal and private of all. It is important to your wellness to have something of an idea of what you believe in. It’s virtually impossible to feel whole and well if you don’t have a belief in something greater than yourself.
⦁ How Much? How much do I need in terms of money and wealth in order to feel secure, safe, and well? How much money does my family need in order for us to support each other? Do I really need to have 500 channels on my TV, a new vehicle every other year, and brand-name everything in order to feel good about my life?
⦁ Job. Do I feel good about my employment? Many people go through life feeling that their job is a drudgery. It’s something they do because “it pays well,” but don’t feel really good about what they’re actually doing. Finding some meaningful connection to the work that you do is an important part of feeling well and good about yourself. If you’re selling a product or performing a service that you don’t believe in, it’s not a good thing. If you were working simply for the money, then that’s not a good thing either. Can you compartmentalize your life? Do you find yourself working at home and on weekends because of your job demands? This is not a problem if you derive some meaning and satisfaction from doing so. If you find yourself working seven days a week for a job that you do not find emotionally satisfying or meaningful, then this part of your life is out of balance. There are, however, going to be crunch times with any job where you have to attend to it. These times are part of the nature of balance.
Wellness is far more than a physical thing, it is rather a comprehensive lifestyle that one maintains easily because it is based on beliefs and personal values. Yeah, it’s a little deeper than push-ups, sit-ups, and that walk you take every day. If you have an understanding of the role that balance plays in this, you’ll feel good about yourself way beyond the physical. Attending to these five principles will give you more awareness and overall satisfaction than simply looking good in the mirror.
P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org