Finding and maintaining balance in all aspects of your life is incredibly important, and can have a huge impact on your physical and mental well-being. Too often, we invest too much time and energy into one specific area of our lives, be it our relationships, work, home life, or health. This can lead to feeling guilty for neglecting other areas of our life that we have convinced ourselves we simply “don’t have time” for. To find some semblance of balance, you must become consciously aware of the intentions you are setting and what you are prioritizing.
What Is Balance?
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when trying to construct balance in your life, is that it is a lifelong process. As our lives are constantly evolving, the balance we have found in one moment may not apply to the next.
Part of finding balance is relinquishing control on how you believe your life should be, and accepting it as is. Balance is an incredibly personal process that does not have a linear definition or finish line.
Practice Not A Sport
Many yoga teachers and practitioners describe balance as a fleeting moment. This is why yoga is referred to as a practice, not a sport. There is no clear prize or finish line, rather, the “point” of yoga is to continue trying and failing, over and over, relishing each brief moment of balance when it comes.
With the understanding that balance is difficult to maintain (as we are constantly changing), there are some linear ways of working towards a balanced lifestyle. Mental health professionals, yoga teachers, and c-suite executives alike acknowledge that setting and prioritizing intentions can be an excellent way to create a more balanced life.
Setting and Prioritizing Your Intentions
In a traditional yoga practice, you begin each session by setting an intention for your time on the mat. Whether your goal is mental, like letting go of something that has been plaguing your mind, or physical, like wanting to feel stronger in a particular pose, intentions help guide your practice and add to the feeling of accomplishment you gain when the session is finished.
Setting intention is not only applicable to yoga – it is a crucial tool that can be implemented beyond your exercise routine. Before making any large decisions or deciding how to respond to external life events, take a moment to pause and set an intention. Perhaps you recently have had an argument with a friend, and are meeting for a coffee to talk.
Your intention in this situation could be to actively listen to your friend’s point of view, with the goal of resolving your differences. Maybe you have been feeling sluggish and unmotivated to workout for some time, which has resulted in a series of workouts that left you feeling unaccomplished.
By taking a moment before beginning the workout to set an intention, you are compelling your mind to focus on what it is you want to achieve. When we take the time to set our intentions before acting, we gain a better understanding of what it means to be balanced, and feel more equipped to handle every situation. Another key aspect to setting intentions is prioritizing. If you consistently choose to focus on the first intention that pops into your head, chances are you are overlooking or neglecting other intentions that could help you construct more balance.
Peter Drucker, known as the father of modern management, emphasizes the importance of setting and prioritizing goals (or intentions) in his book The Effective Executive. Drucker believes that you should take stock of your goals, “decide what’s important, focus on it and get it done.” Look back on your past week.
If you did not set any conscious intentions and notice that you spent a significant amount of time each day focusing on your interpersonal relationships, try to prioritize time in the coming week for other areas of your life, like rest and relaxation, or your career.
Likewise, if you did not socialize with friends because you were busy at work, grant yourself the time to put your projects on pause and enjoy time with your friends. Taking stock of what you have been prioritizing and the amount of time you have recently put into each area of your life will shed light on why you currently feel unbalanced.
Part of maintaining a balanced lifestyle is allowing yourself to take breaks. When we fall into cycles of overworking or overthinking, we not only elevate our stress levels, but lessen our productivity. We can also hurt our personal relationships by investing too much of our time into career and self. With that said, time invested in yourself is incredibly important. In order to ensure that you are giving equal time to all areas of your life, allow yourself to take breaks.
Turn off the notifications on your phone and go for a quick walk, take time to catch up on your favorite TV show, or pick up a new hobby. Find something in your life that grants you time to be alone, to reset and recharge. Once you feel like your “me time” is solidified, you can carve out time for friends and other priorities.
It is important to remember, whenever you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed, that you are in charge of your life and can decide to take a break. There will of course be obligations you shouldn’t miss, like the wedding of a close friend or a big work presentation, but giving yourself some time before or after these events to focus on your personal needs can lessen stress, and allow you to better enjoy your life.
Being Patient With Yourself
Like all things in life, finding the right balance is going to take time. You are going to experience “aha!” moments when you think you’ve finally found it, and then it will change. It is most important, then, to be patient with yourself, and allow yourself the time to take a break and reflect. If you know you want to find a more balanced lifestyle, but aren’t sure where to begin, try out a yoga or meditation class.
While yoga and meditation may not be something you enjoy or want to incorporate in your life long term, taking just one of these guided classes can help you better understand how to slow down and trust your intuition. Another great way to begin establishing balance is through diet and exercise.
Since each body is different, the balance of caloric intake and physical activity you will need in order to maintain a healthy balance will not be the same as anyone else’s.
It is important to explore what works for you, from the kinds of foods you eat, to how you manage stress, to how much physical activity you incorporate in your life each day. By deciding to make these healthy, conscious choices on a consistent basis, you have already begun practicing balance.