Time for Balance with your Health, Work and Relationships

Time for Balance with your Health, Work and Relationships

February – Time for Balance with your Health, Work and Relationships

Now that all the festivities are in the past, and January went by in a flash, it can be time to slow down and think about how you’d like your life to be.  

Let’s start February with making time to reflect on how we would like life to be. 

How often do we say we are “busy”, life is “hectic” when people ask how we are? 

Many times, we hear ourselves say this with a sense of pride as if being busy means good.

Finding the balance between ‘good busy’ and ‘overwhelming out of control busy’ is not so easy for most of us. 

Life presents us with all types of stress: stress through work, financial stress, relationship and physical stress. Ageing parents, family conflicts, accidents, change, financial problems and illness are part of everyone’s life. If we are lucky, we face these difficult times one at a time but for many of us it feels like they hit us all at once.

Dr Joseph Maroon, Neurosurgeon, in his book Square One presents some interesting insights on the matter:  

He offers a look at what it takes to avoid physical and emotional burnout.  He offers the concept of seeing life pictorially as a square with each side representing what life is made up of. 

You can do this exercise now if you’d like to:  

Grab a pen and paper and draw a perfect perfect square – one side career, work, one side study; one side health and our physical aspects; one side relationships both personal, familial and work; and finally, the side that represents the “you”, what you believe in and your place in the world.  

When all is going well this is in a perfect square. 

However, most of the time one aspect takes up more of our time and energy than the other does.  

The key is to bring it all back in balance. 

All sides are interrelated and the repercussions of one side being out of balance usually means it impacts on the others.

How to balance your health?  

A balanced Health side of the square requires us to focus long term rather than a quick fix diet and exercise promise. A balanced eating regime reducing excess caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugars gives our body and brain a good head start. This of course requires a level of change for most of us and change requires both commitment and discipline. 

Start slow – if 30 mins of exercise seems too big a step, start with 2 mins a day. Do the stairs rather than take the lift, walk to the local café, vacuum the spare room (only joking!).

Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain – being sedentary makes us vulnerable to blood flow problems, slow thinking and forgetfulness. The message is to be aware and start slowly to instigate a new neural pathway rather than repeat the same old patterns we have had for years. 

This health side also includes our mental health and there are numerous studies that show that exercise has a protective effect against depression. Many people who exercise regularly will confirm that they get the best stress relief and their best ideas when they are doing or have done some exercise. Exercise means better circulation to the brain and body which helps lift your mood by boosting serotonin which gives us the feelings of calm and optimism and dopamine which helps learning and motivation. Seems a no brainer but sometimes we need support and this is when access to specialists such as nutritionists or personal trainers can tailor a programme to fit your needs.

Finding the time to relax, unwind, debrief, reflect and just be is also necessary for health. Meditation is a perfect way to stop for those ten minutes a day, to take some slow steady breaths, to learn how to respond rather than react to situations and to put life into perspective. Combining a holiday, time out or quiet time helps keep this part of our square in balance.

Work, Career, Education – the brain part of our body

Most of us find that this aspect takes up much of our day- much of our life actually! 

Life long learning is wonderful and working in our area of passion is also good for us in many ways. 

What can happen in reality is that we work long hours, and deal with often difficult situations and people and we never stop thinking about it! 

Work can be meaningful yet the most draining on our energy which can impact our health, relationships with others and at times our sense of self. 

Working out strategies to reduce the overthinking, to manage the tough financial times and to once more keep perspective are essential to finding the work-life balance.

As with the Health part of the square, incorporating healthy nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and stopping to gain perspective ensures awareness of when we are under stress at work and a reminder to stop and review before burnout.

Relationships – the heart part of our body

The third side of our square is that of relationships, whether they are our family, work or personal relationships. These are our connections to others who are central to all aspects of our life. 

Healthy connections keep us grounded and encourage and inspire us to be the best we can possibly be. 

Unhealthy relationships or out of balance relationships can be draining of our energy and draining of who we are. 

When we focus too much on one side of our square, often our relationships suffer. Think of too much time at work and not enough time engaging with people in our life. 

The You 

This side of the square is the soul, the You part, the “who am I ?” part of life and the “what is important to me and life?”. 

Take some time now to consider: what is important to you? 

What makes you shine, laugh and feel as if you are contributing to the world? 

When we get too consumed by our work or the difficulties of relationships, we lose sight of this and forget our core beliefs and values. 

At the start of any new year or when there are changes in life remember to take a moment to check your square and to recognise the stress produced by our daily activities and any imbalance. 

Take some time now to incorporate physical activity, mindfulness practice and connection to others in our lives and find the balance to enjoy life!

Written by Registered Psychologist, Carla Bormolini.

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