And stay sane during these uncertain times...
Most of us intuitively know that balance is an important ingredient for a fulfilling life. It’s one of the elements that make up the ‘good life’ – you know, one that’s fun, happy and flows with ease. Balance in life leads to healthier choices and more informed decision-making. Ultimately, it leads us to feel more satisfied, at peace and in control of our lives. It gives us the space to do things from a conscious awareness rather than in stressed out auto-pilot mode with our blinkers on. It’s ok to sometimes feel out of balance, like during a pandemic when struggling to juggle motherhood and working from home all at the same time. Whether we have children or not, we’ve all been there. Give yourself permission to feel unbalanced, remembering the mantra “This too shall pass”. Nothing is permanent in life, and it’s important to keep this in mind when the going gets tough.
Without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for infusing more balance into your life when everything feels completely and utterly overwhelming (like during lockdowns!):
1. Be honest with yourself
Firstly, it’s important to get clear on where and how you currently spend your time. Where is your time going? What do you want to accomplish this week, this month, this year? What are your current health, lifestyle, relationship, financial and career goals? And, often a tough one to answer, what has to give? What are you willing to give up in order to reach these goals? For example, are you willing to give up the Netflix or Stan binges or scrolling Insta 100 times a day for a month, three months or longer if it means you’ll claim back more time for the things in life that truly matter to you?
I find it helpful to keep a ‘Q&A journal’ here to tap into intuition and allow the answers to flow in. Carve out 15 minutes or so to write out the above questions and see what answers come through. It’s amazing how intuition drops in when we create the space and time in our busy schedules to slow down and tune in. Mindfulness and meditation are also helpful for anchoring yourself in the present moment and experiencing realisations or light bulb moments about what’s working and what’s not in your life. Once you have the answers, it’s **time** to start introducing small changes, too. Because, in the words of that famous German scientist “If we change nothing, nothing changes.”
Key takeout: be completely honest with yourself about where you’re currently spending your time. If you want to carve out more time, something has to give - what will that something be for you?
2. Schedule, schedule, schedule
Now that you’re clear on your priorities, goals and therefore where you want to spend your time, grab a diary or your online calendar and put it all in there. This effective strategy – also known as ‘time-blocking’ – keeps you organised (no more forgetting appointments or double booking yourself, lovely!) and will give you a realistic view of your time and where it goes each day. Personally, I love Google Calendar as I can sync it across my devices so that I know what’s going on each day without having to carry a heavy diary or laptop around everywhere I go. This step is about planning and I like to set aside time on a Sunday to plan for the following week, to schedule in all of my commitments and set reminders. Schedule everything in your calendar. I mean everything including your morning commute times to work or to drop the kids off, your workouts, your social commitments, work hours, down time and time for your morning and evening rituals.
I like to create recurring appointments in my calendar to save time in the future, so for example my dance and gym classes are set up to repeat each week 😊 Make sure you schedule in some self-care time, too. I always suggest my clients schedule time out every day for at least one self-care activity, whether that’s attending your favourite gym class, meditating, enjoying a walk along the beach, getting a massage or all of the above, whatever best fills up your cup, beautiful! Failing to schedule and plan is one of the biggest shortcomings I see in my clients, friends and family. Again, another fave quote on this topic is "in failing to plan, you’re planning to fail".
Key takeout: Schedule absolutely **everything** in your diary or calendar today! And remember, if it's not scheduled, it's not real.
3. Balance your inner feminine and masculine energies
Most women I know - who are living their best, busy lives - are living too much in their masculine or yang energy of go-go-go, rush-rush-rush, busy-busy-busy and hustle-hustle-hustle. I'm sure you know this familiar feeling too? While there’s definitely times in our lives where we want to be more in this energy (say for example, when you have a deadline or big presentation at work or in the morning when you need to get the kids ready and out the door for school!), living in this constant amped up state of stress and overdrive isn’t healthy long-term though. It sends cortisol, the stress hormone, surging through our bodies alerting us that we’re in danger and putting us in the flight or fight response.
As women we need to find ways to reconnect with and embody our innate feminine essence. It’s about time we carved out some time (pardon the pun!) to take a deep breath - hit the pause button even - and rebalance ourselves. Think massage, taking a long bath, diffusing your favourite essential oils, going for a looooong nature walk (my fave !), journaling, cooking yourself a nourishing meal, dancing and so much more. Remember, try not to put too much pressure on yourself here to tick off an impossible list of daily self-care rituals (like I used to – separate story on that coming soon!). Maybe it’s one or two from this list or something else that lights you up and allows you to flow, release and soften. You know what’s best for you and what you can realistically commit to. Finally, make sure you schedule your feminine practices in your calendar or diary (see point two above)!
Key takeout: a healthy balance of both feminine and masculine energy is key to living a balanced life. Slow down, soften, surrender, flow, express yourself, rest, relax and rejuvenate every day to strengthen your feminine essence.
4. Quiet the chatter. Claim back more time.
We’re bombarded with distractions in today’s modern world with technology and social media literally at our finger tips. While it can be hard to resist the temptation of checking our socials every five minutes, we need to be mindful of the effects this is having on our nervous systems. That incessant binging and pinging creates excess noise and clutter in our minds and and is proven to activate the stress response (1). I'm sure you already know this though, right?!
One simple way I’ve managed to free myself of my phone addiction is by turning off notifications so that I’m no longer distracted by all the alerts, which let’s face it – really do make it more difficult to focus. I also pop my phone into flight mode every night from 10pm and regularly throughout the day when I need to focus on a work deadline. A social media detox can also be wonderfully helpful during times of major stress. You might even want to pick one day a week that you completely disconnect from your devices, perhaps a Sunday or you could even just start with an afternoon a week. Actively choosing to opt out of the 24/7, ‘always-on’ expectation of modern life has helped enormously to alleviate my anxiety, ultimately leading to a feeling of greater peace and balance in my life. I hope it works wonders for you too!
Key takeout: now is the time to break free from your phone addiction.
5. Live in harmony with the rhythms and cycles of nature
A lot of our stress in life comes from *drumroll* yep - you guessed it! - living out of alignment with our mother, mother nature. By this I mean, staying up late and sleeping in, going to bed and waking up at irregular times, eating cold foods in winter and hot foods in summer, not getting enough exposure to the sun, fresh air and earth. Connecting back to nature is hands down one of the best ways to re-balance yourself and inject more joy into your work week. As much as humany possible, get outside, go for a walk in your lunch break, look up, feel the sun’s healing rays on your skin (protect yourself from harmful UV rays with a good natural sunscreen 😊) and look at the trees, the sky, the stars, the moon, mountains etc as far as the eye can see – motivational speaker Kevin Trudeau says this helps to put things into perspective and increase feelings of positivity. Adequate exposure to daylight is essential for melatonin production, the sleep hormone, so as soon as you wake up, be sure to raise the blinds and let there be light!
Something that also helped me is acknowledging and honouring circadian rhythms. Did you know that we have little clock genes in every single cell of our bodies? These clock genes react to environmental cues and help to regulate the release of certain hormones. For example, we get sleepy around 9pm onward because our clock genes know it’s night-time and that triggers the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone which makes us yawn and our eyes feel heavy. Our digestive fire, also known as agni in Ayurveda, is strongest between 12pm and 2pm when we are active and moving about, rather than in the evenings when we are sedentary and winding down for the day. Therefore, it’s best to eat your biggest meal at lunch time.
Key takeout: reconnect with nature every day to infuse your life with the healing vibes of mother earth.
Sending you health and happiness.