Many of us talk about wanting balance in our lives, but it seems so out of reach. We try to eat healthy and make home-cooked meals, get a decent amount of sleep each night and spend time with friends or family on weekends for connection, yet, life balance still seems out of reach.
Often our diets start to mirror more of a hustle-and-bustle lifestyle: eat whatever we can when we can and quickly. This pattern disrupts the way our bodies are meant to function, eventually leading to factors such as irritability, sleep deprivation and even severe illness. Exercise gets pushed to the side, because we don’t have time for it and the spiral of mental and physical suffering begins.
My Quest for Balance
When I turned 30, I decided to find the most interesting jobs, network with unique individuals and stay as busy as possible. Little did I know that I was setting myself up for sleepless late nights, a fast-food diet, scattered exercise routines, overworking myself into extreme stress and committing to too many social activities. I was missing the balance in my life necessary to establishing a healthy lifestyle. Over time I learned a new way to live and below I share my tips with you:
1. Make Time Management a Priority
Make lists and use a day planner or electronic calendar. Day planners will fit in your purse or tote bag and most smartphones have an app built into them for making notes, lists, and agendas for just about any occasion. How you manage your time everyday will directly affect what you can get completed each week.
For example, I have a busy schedule and with two jobs, I have to make sure I know what I am doing each day at various times of the day. I like using calendars because I can write down each activity in the big square boxes and mark a giant “X” through them after each day’s tasks are complete.
2. Incorporate Your Favorite Type of Exercise
Exercise is a vital component to our daily lives because any kind of physical activity allows our bodies to burn calories from the foods we eat, eliminates stress from the work grind and helps lift our moods. I personally enjoy nature walks outside because I can soak up the sunlight, which contains Vitamin D.
Choose forms of exercise that make you feel good afterwards, helping you establish a routine you can commit to. Yoga and Pilates are my favorites because one activity mentally engages me, while the other provides a great cardio workout. I try to workout four times a week, delicately balancing a mix of both yoga and fitness classes.
3. Experiment with Your Nutrition
Fast food might be a quick meal when you are on the go, but these processed foods provide little nutritional value and when consumed over a period of time, can do serious damage to the gut and digestive health. Meal prepping for the week is a good solution if you do not have time to cook each day. Healthy snacks such as fruit like bananas, apples, oranges, grapes or nuts can be easily stored in your purse and consumed quickly.
Recently, I started experimenting with juices and smoothies and found that the best ones are those that contain high fruit and veggie content with minimal additives. I drink them every week after I workout or as a meal replacement for lunch. My personal suggestions for jump-starting good nutrition are eating a light breakfast each morning, consuming smaller meal portions, eating more salads and green veggies (kale, zucchini, and broccoli), lowering artificial sugar and alcohol consumption and not snacking after 9 p.m.
4. Make Time for Fun.
Plan some fun activities with family or friends. When you have a great group of friends to pass time with, any social activity becomes much more fun and will allow you to meet new people and create lasting memories to look back on.
Start with activities that allow you to be social such as a coffee shop visit, dinner parties or taking yoga/fitness classes within a group. If you are looking for quieter activities that don’t require much talking, then movies, plays, musicals and concerts can do the trick. You may want to limit yourself to one or two social activities during the course of a week and set a boundary if necessary to avoid exhaustion and overcommitment.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”i2ly4″ via=”yes” ]Choose forms of exercise that make you feel good afterwards, helping you establish a routine you can commit to. [/ctt]
5. Establish Consistent Sleep Patterns
Sleep is the one area that many people find difficult to maintain a steady balance. The most common problem for many is not getting enough sleep at night and feeling tired the next day. Coffee is often used as a substitute to get the body going, but if consumed in excess, can cause headaches and stomach irritation. The caffeine then becomes addictive.
One way to start getting more rest is by making a conscious effort to go to bed at the same time every night for two weeks. This way, a habit is formed and the body can unwind. Waking up earlier in the morning eliminates the need for afternoon naps because the body is better rested for the day’s activities from good sleep the night before. Another tip is to shut down all electronic devices such as televisions, computers and smartphones an hour before bed.
Now It’s Your Turn
Maintaining a delicate balance in these areas is necessary for a healthier lifestyle because a healthy body and mind allow you to enjoy life and feel better. Experiment with these ideas to see which ones work best. Feel free to comment about your results- I’d love to hear from you!
Marie Williams is a certified tennis teaching professional and the former Online Editor for Black Tennis Magazine. She holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of North Texas. In her spare time, Marie enjoys hatha and vinyasa yoga, pilates, nature walks, reading and journaling. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
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