This is the slightly long-winded story of my wakeup call that it was time to make a conscious effort to regain the balance in my life. If you want to skip all this and scroll down to my practical suggestions, I won’t blame you.
These are my words of wisdom for the week and are based on my own experiences the past couple weeks. These experiences include lying in bed for hours on end, struggling to sit up for even 5 minutes at a time, and trying to form cohesive thoughts through a brain that felt like it was filled with mush while I was sick and feverish with pneumonia.
Since Christmas my life has been filled with a lot of stress. I can’t really go into it all right now because that would mean violating others’ privacy but let’s just say there have been A LOT of family/friend related health issues. That stress hit me like a ton of bricks when I came down with a nasty virus that very very quickly turned into pneumonia (I”m very prone to it because of a weakened lung due to it collapsing years ago during surgery).
Even then, I tried so hard to keep up my work schedule. Oh boy did I try! There were days that I remember staring at the computer screen, desperately trying to form coherent words so I could get my clients’ social media scheduled. I worked via my tablet because I couldn’t sit up. I did everything I could to find a way around being sick so I could keep on working.
Finally, there came about a day and a half where my body won. I don’t even really remember that day and a half. I guess I must have managed to make it to the bathroom, to let the dog out, and to keep all the pets fed because they are all alive and my house isn’t a toxic hazard zone. But other than that, I slept. And slept. And slept. I had no fight left in me. I could just picture those germs inside of me rubbing their little hands together and with an evil laugh saying “Aha! We’ve got you now!”.
Just as I began to recover, one of those mysterious stressful things I mentioned before happened and I thought, “Oh no. Here we go again.” This one hit a bit closer to home and meant that I was dealing with some extra work to be done and a lack of sleep – neither of which could be avoided. I knew I had two choices. Find a few ways to regain my balance despite all of this or end up sick again. My immune system isn’t fully recovered from the pneumonia so this would be a certainty if I didn’t head it off with a little self-care.
1. Stop and breathe. Of course, we’re already breathing without even thinking about it but most of us breathe quite shallowly. Some deep breaths can be really helpful to your health in many ways. It’s very relaxing, brings more oxygen to all parts of your body (including your brain which can clear your thinking), and it can lead to a more restful sleep. I’m setting an alarm on my phone for 3 times a day and when it goes off, I sit down and do some deep breathing for a few minutes. Try to just concentrate on each breath as it goes in and out and nothing else.
2. Unplug. Take some time to remove yourself from the outside world and its distractions. Turn off the electronics. Take time just for yourself or with your family. For a while, I was doing this as of 8 pm every night and all weekend, but lately, making that a hard and fast rule has not been possible. So, I simply require myself to schedule some time each day – in an especially hectic stressful time, it might only be 30 minutes a day but every little bit counts.
3. Be present. Be in the moment no matter what you’re doing. This has been a huge one for me lately. I start working on scheduling tweets for one of my clients and suddenly, I think of something for another client. So, I jump over to that. I get involved in working on things for client #2 and I lose track of where I was for client #1. It works so much better if I concentrate on what I’m doing at the time and only on that. If I’m scheduling tweets for client #1 for Monday, I don’t stray from that until I’ve finished. I keep a Word document open and if I think of something for another client, I simply “park” it in the Word doc for later and continue with the tweets until finished.
4. Get moving. Walking and dancing have always been what helps recharge me and clears my mind. Lately, my hip won’t allow me to do either one so I’ve been doing yoga instead. When I started, it didn’t have quite the same impact as walking and dancing and I wasn’t sure it was going to work mentally and emotionally (even though of course, it would still be good for me physically). Bringing in some of #3 or #5 along with the yoga helps, as does playing some inspiring music while I do it. Find what works for you.
5. Meditate and/or pray. I do both but if you’re not religious, you can leave out the prayer. There are plenty of resources out there on “how to meditate”. Just Google and you’ll find lots. Personally, I just try to take some time to tune everything out and allow my mind to wander and float I do best with meditating while lying down. Sitting up makes me focus on how much my hip hurts. Instead, I lie on my side with a pillow between my knees. I can’t actually fall asleep in that position but I can get very relaxed so it’s ideal for me. If I do meditate while sitting up, I find that having a candle so I can stare at and focus on the flame or playing some instrumental, soothing music can help keep me out of the pain zone.
Obviously, things like healthy eating and getting a good night’s sleep are always important in maintaining or regaining balance in your life but for me, if I put these 5 in action, the rest just falls back into place for me.
What do you do when you feel your life is lacking balance?
Why do I meditate AND pray? Well during the meditation time, I’m just trying to relax my mind and body. As thoughts come into my head, I try to just let them float away. During prayer, I don’t want to let my thoughts go. Instead, I’m having a conversation with God and at that time, I want to be open to His replies. So, during meditation, I’m trying to let go of the stress and push the negative thoughts away but during prayer, I might actually embrace the negativity, allow myself to get angry or cry about it, and then hand it over to God.