Creating balance in life is one of the most important components of mental health and wellbeing. The idea of balance for mental health is that, instead of driven by stress, pulled in multiple directions, sometimes tipping one way and sometimes tipping other ways, we stay centered in one spot, calmly doing life tasks. The idea of living a harmonized life is valid and legitimate. Experiencing a sense of evenness reduces anxiety and stress, replacing them with harmony around us and within us. However, the mere fact that we need to strive for balance implies that we’re rather imbalanced. And because we’re off-center (and likely stressed, anxious, or otherwise challenged), righting ourselves can be difficult.
Do Self-Help Tools Throw Us Off Balance?
Multiple tools exist to help us create balance in our lives. Among them:
- eliminating unnecessary tasks on our to-do lists
- making time for a personal life, family, friends
- cultivating a daily meditation practice
- practicing self-care
- getting enough quality sleep
This is only an abbreviated list, but it includes the most prominent advice for achieving balance, mental health, and wellbeing. Each and every one of the above items is a proven way to lower stress. However, there is an inherent problem here. Each one is excellent but incomplete; for true balance, we need all (or at least several) of these approaches. This becomes one more thing to balance: we have to fit wellness techniques into our already challenging lives in order to feel stable. This can trip us up, knocking us perpetually off-balance.
Creating Balance in Your Life
I propose a different approach to balance and to mental health and wellbeing.
This approach to inner harmony begins at the core—your core—and revolves around it. With this method, you first define what a quality life means to you, what makes your life worth living, and then you live your life intentionally to achieve it. Intentional living involves
- Work. More than paid employment, work refers to the things you do to make your life run. It also involves the ways you contribute to your world.
- Quality time with others. Who is in your life that you like to spend time with? How do you spend that time?
- Self-care. How are you nurturing yourself (mind, body, and spirit)?
- Enjoyment. En-JOY is an action verb. What are you doing to create joy and happiness in your life?
- Meaning. What brings meaning to your life? This is the “why” behind what makes your life worth living.
Do What You Need to Do In the Moment
Life is unpredictable. The best way to handle it is to accept this and roll with it. Picture balance as a ball. If a ball is over-inflated and tight, it will pop when it meets an obstacle. If we are rigid and can’t roll with life, we run the risk of popping, too, when we meet stress and anxiety.
True equilibrium comes from doing what you need to do in each moment to live your quality life. It’s the essence of mindfulness. Be present and aware in your moment, and attend to that moment completely. Sometimes work will need to dominate, but we can offset that by rotating to one of the other areas. This model for balance is fluid, round, and it rotates on its axis, which happens to be your quality life.
Balance doesn’t mean straining to keep every circle the same size every minute of your life. Balance means having a vision of your quality life and taking action in all of these areas (but not all at once) to achieve it.
What is your vision of a quality life? Achieve it—and with it mental health and wellbeing—with balance and less stress anxiety.