What do you think of when you hear the word “balance”?
Maybe it’s standing on one leg, making healthy financial decisions or even trying to find that “quiet time” with Jesus amidst a hectic work day. Whether we know it or not, our lives are in constant flux, ultimately impacting our balance and ability to thrive.
Although we each have varying capacities to withstand life’s greatest stressors, we simply cannot avoid the shifting of seasons, changing of relationships, unpredictability of careers and the unreliability of the very things that appear to bring us stability and control. In the blink of an eye, a slight shift or abrupt transition between seasons can cause us to feel off balance. Even though these changes do evoke anxiety and sometimes throw us for a loop, I’ve come to learn that these seasons of change can act as a catalyst to developing resiliency.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 depicts much of the world that we find ourselves living in today. From times of weeping to times of laughing, times of tearing to times of mending, times of planting to times of uprooting. We may begin to question how balance is even possible when life is simply unpredictable.
“THANKFULLY, WE HAVE A GOD WHO IS CONSTANT EVEN WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE REMAINS IN FLUX.”
He is present with us in each and every season, providing us with His strength, perseverance and courage. He continues to guide us as we learn small ways to build self-awareness and simple tools to modify our lifestyle in order to remain stable, secure and resilient. Rest knowing that finding and maintaining balance is a process that takes commitment and perseverance.
For me, finding life balance amidst a stressful situation or changing season is much like the process of making one of my favorite snacks: a delicious smoothie! In order to create a smoothie with the best taste and texture, you have to use the perfect combination and amount of nutrient-dense ingredients that will satisfy your hunger and fuel your body.
Imagine a smoothie with only one ingredient, like frozen cherries. It would no longer be a smoothie and would be incredibly hard to enjoy! On the flip side, imagine a smoothie with too many different ingredients: bananas, cherries, avocado, mint, chocolate, pineapple, spinach, beets, lemon and ginger. That doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? Although all of these ingredients serve a purpose, they become a culinary disaster when combined!
Just like I’ve learned with my smoothie-making abilities, our lives are very much a work in progress. The changing of seasons can cause our life to easily reflect a one-ingredient kind of smoothie, ultimately impacting our mental health. Other times, we desire to escape our situation by adding anything and everything to distract ourselves from our present reality – a smoothie that becomes unbearable to drink! Regardless of where you find yourself, each day is filled with hope and opportunity to try a new recipe for your life, adding in a favorite flavor you haven’t tried in awhile or removing an ingredient that just doesn’t seem to fit.
Here are a few tips to help you take that first step toward finding healthy life balance:
1. Evaluate what is going into your “smoothie” each day. Choose one day from this past week and write down all of the activities, commitments, priorities, passions, friendships, habits and hobbies that filled that entire day.
2. Check in to see if these activities, responsibilities or hobbies nourished the four most important areas of our life: physical (e.g., sleep, exercise, nutrition, medication), mental (e.g., healthy thinking, completing a work or school assignment, learning a new subject or skill), spiritual (e.g., Bible study, prayer, attending a church group, volunteering), and relational (e.g., spending time with family or friends). Is there one category that was left untouched or a category that was completely dominating your day?
3. Modify your recipe! You do not have to be bound to drinking the same smoothie over and over again. You have full permission to cut back on certain areas that may be causing a lack of balance or add a few different things to your day to find more balance.
We can easily begin to strive for perfection and expect balance to appear overnight! Know that any sustainable growth takes time and commitment. Start small this week by choosing one main area to focus on (e.g., body, mind, spirit, relationships) and determine what you can add or remove from your daily schedule in order to care for this important area of your life!
Remember, strive for progress, not perfection! There is hope and you are not alone.