How to Create a More Balanced, Zen Life
Remember going to the park as a child, carefree and playing on a teeter totter? As you and your friend sat on opposite ends, you flew up in the air feeling as if you were touching the sky. Then you’d come crashing back down, but for a few moments the weight was balanced. As adults with chaotic lives and minds pulling us in a million directions, we are still striving for those few moments of balance.
It can be exhausting trying to be the best wife/girlfriend/mother/best friend with the best body whose prepped the healthiest meals while killing it at work in the chicest outfits. Did I mention that this can be freaking exhausting? In my professional work as a therapist, I’ve seen so many women, from all walks of life, plagued by stress and anxiety because everything on their to do list is a priority. They usually come last on that list. I’ve also seen this first hand in my own life because I’m a woman who puts a lot of expectations on herself. This sparked a desire in me to begin my own personal journey to find more inner peace. It has been amazing to reap the benefits of living a more balanced life. Here are some of my top tips and techniques to discovering a more balanced, zen life.
Are you Nourishing or Draining Yourself?
Write down a list of all the things you do from the time you wake up to the time your head touches your pillow. I know you are probably thinking, Don’t make me write another list! I promise this can be an eye opening activity. Next to each item, put an “N” for those that nourish you and a “D” for those that drain you. How much of your day is being spent doing things that actually lift you up, rather than chip away at you? Of course, some things that drain us are inevitable. We have to pay the bills, clean the bathroom and do laundry to keep a functioning household and clean, peaceful space. Are there any changes, though that you are able to make? Eliminating or decreasing our time and energy spent around toxic situations or people can help us to find more peace in our lives. Even if it is not possible to completely walk away from them, you are not powerless. You can set clear boundaries as to what you will and will not accept. This is not easy, but it is possible. It requires an honest conversation and staying committed to your plan.
Self Care Is Much More Than #Treatyoself
The #treatyoself frenzy on social media is awesome in bringing light to the idea of indulging and pampering yourself more often. However, self care is so much more than treating yourself to a mani and an extra scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. By incorporating coping skills into your day you will begin to truly see the benefits and improve the quality of your life. For each person, their self care will be something different and it may take some trial and error to figure out what is most meaningful for you.The main thing is to find something that gets you in your flow and leaves you feeling amazing and calm. Whether it’s being active and moving or being creative, the options are endless. For some, meditation and yoga are amazing ways to practice breathing techniques, calm the central nervous system and quiet the mind. I started my meditation practice by downloading apps, such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace and Insight Timer. I tried to practice in the mornings, but found that midday breaks really helped me. Afterwards, it made me feel as if I had taken a power nap. I was rested and revived, but also had a sense of calm running through me. I then felt ready to check out some meditation studios and experience live guided meditations. I feel deeper in love with this practice. Anytime I’m feeling out of balance or just having “one of those days,” a quick meditation is my go to and I end up feeling worlds better.
Pencil Yourself In
We give away a lot of our time and energy to our careers, our relationships and our commitments, but how much do we leave for ourselves? We may feel like we have nothing left to give at the end of the day or may feel guilty about spending time and money on ourselves. I subscribe to the philosophy that there is nothing worth more than our well being. I learned this lesson early on in my career when a supervisor shared this nugget of wisdom with me, “You can’t fully take care of others until you have taken care of yourself first.” This is where consistent self care comes into play. When we are operating from a frazzled place of not getting enough sleep or our stomach tied in knots or just feeling plain overwhelmed, we are not able to make our best decisions or perform at our highest level. We might snap back more quickly, turn to food for comfort or begin to feel depressed. Just as you make time in your schedule for grocery shopping and walking your dog, make time for yourself. Even if all you have to spare is 30 minutes to take a bubble bath and listen to music, those quiet moments of peace can make all the difference in helping you to feel refreshed and ready to face your next challenge.
Let That Sh*t Go
At the end of the day, there may be some dishes left in the sink and no perfectly prepped meals of chicken, veggies and quinoa in the fridge. That’s okay. Let it go. Here is a little secret you may or may not be aware of. No one has it all figured out. They may look like they do from the outside, but trust me, there is something they are struggling with, too. Everyone has their own problems, some bigger than others. Curated pictures on social media rarely tell the whole truth or even a quarter of the truth. Show yourself some kindness and self compassion when things don’t turn out how you planned. Be your biggest cheerleader and work with yourself, rather than against yourself. This is what balance is all about, accepting that there will be ebbs and flows, good days and bad days. So, on those not so good days, grab a magazine, decompress and do a little better tomorrow.