Summer is a great time to decompress and enjoy a somewhat slower pace than the rest of the year. Children are out of school and many of us go on vacation during these warmer months. The days are longer and warmer allowing for more opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature and other people. All of these of good things!
Recently I have spoken to many people who are feeling out of balance, ungrounded or anxious. It seems that many are being thrown off balance by external events that are creating an underlying sense of instability. The tragic events in Florida, the contentiousness of the upcoming election and the uncertainty of the economy along with other international turmoil are all factors adding to the stress. While the outcome of these events are mostly out of our control, we can become attached to the negative energy surrounding them and it can impact our well-being, focus and energy. Restoring balance is a process which begins with awareness and leads to action.
Steps to Restore Balance
- Awareness: Before you can restore balance it is important to determine which areas of your life are out of whack. Common areas are work, home, health, relationships, fun, finances or spirituality. Perhaps it is one of these factors or a combination of several. Once you gain awareness about where it is coming from you can begin to make changes that will help you find your equilibrium.
- Determine what is in your control: Determining what is in our control to change and what is not is the next step. For example, we cannot control the negative events in the world but we can control our reaction and response. We can limit how much news we read or watch or how much exposure we have to social media. If events or people are out of our control to change and we continually attempt to do so, we will become frustrated and anxious by our inability to succeed. Letting go of what we cannot control helps us relax.
- Minimize exposure to toxic people, places and things: Often we do not realize that external factors are draining us. Are there people or events that seem to suck the energy from your body and mind? If so, try limiting the exposure or setting personal boundaries can be helpful. For example, we might have a co-worker who constantly tries to engage us in uncomfortable political discussion. In this situation we can politely but firmly tell them that we don’t discuss politics in the office and then change the subject. Humor can work if the situation is uncomfortable. If the attempts continue, remind them of your policy and remove yourself if possible.
- Pay attention to your health: During times of stress we often ignore our health and well-being which further contributes to our lack of balance. Prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and regular meals, sticking with exercise that is enjoyable and gives you energy. Having fun might also be low on the priority list when we feel stress. Doing something to lighten the mood even if we don’t feel like it can be very helpful. Even something as simple as taking five minutes and watching a humorous video can make us laugh or smile which helps shift our perspective.
- Find time for quiet: When we feel out of balance taking a few minutes or longer to get quiet and relax will help restore equilibrium. Try a simple breathing exercise like “breathing in I create space in my body and mind, breathing out I release tension in my body and mind” to shift energy and focus. Go outside and connect with nature if that is an option.
- Connect with your support system: Spend time talking to those who you trust and share how you are feeling. Feeling isolated or alone will increase stress. Perspective from a trusted and supportive person or group will help us restore balance. If it is not possible to visit with your support, find time for a call. Seek the help and support of a therapist, coach or clergy member if needed. As the saying goes “A pain shared if a pain halved.”