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Finding Balance

Finding Balance

Article for Costa Women

Continuing with our theme on “Balance”, Leigh Matthews, Australian Psychologist and Founder of Therapy in Barcelona talks about how at times, we all struggle to seek balance.

Balance. We all struggle with this at times. Selflessness has been glorified as a goal for the “good” woman, while balance, and the assertiveness, self-care and boundaries that support balance, have been relegated to the realm of the “bad” woman/mother/wife.

Balance has nothing to do with being good or bad, and everything to do with thriving, and empowering our children, partners, siblings, colleagues, and friends to thrive too.

Stress is the result of imbalance. Stress occurs when the demands on you outweigh your coping resources. Finding balance means reducing the demands on you, or increasing coping skills, or both.

What balance means and looks like is unique to you. When you have it, you will be thriving in multiple areas of your life, feel calmer, sleep better, be less easily upset by trivial things and more enthused by your daily tasks. Balance is dynamic. There is no state of perfection or end point. Balance requires frequent reflections, and adjustments in priorities as the demands on you shift or as your self-care shifts. If you lose balance, you can get it back. If you obtain balance, you can lose your balance. It’s like riding a bike, you respond to changes in the environment or your wellbeing to keep balance. Self-compassion is essential on this journey because you will lose balance….and then obtain it again.

In seeking balance it can help to shift from the question “what should I do?” to “who am I?” Who are you? What do you need and want? What are your values and priorities? The answers are your compass that will guide you in the boundaries you set and the choices you make to be able to function well. If you value family time, then you will need to set boundaries around work if it is devouring family life. If you value longevity and physical health, then fatigue, or illness signal a need to shift priorities to enhance self-care. If you are miserable and pursuing zero joyful activities, then you need to find some joy in hobbies.

In seeking balance it can help to shift from the thought “This is selfish” to “This is helping me show up as my best for others.” Balance is work and requires toppling mental barriers to obtaining and maintaining it. Beliefs like “I’ll upset others if I ask for what I need or want” prevent you from taking time or delegating to rectify imbalance. Knowing your needs and personal bill of rights helps you to stay convinced of your right to do what needs to be done to maintain balance. “I have the right to say no!” “I have the right to change my mind.” 

Did you realise, that just three words can help you in your quest for balance: “delegate, automate and eliminate.” Communicate assertively to delegate tasks at work and home. Balance means making conscious choices, taking responsibility and granting responsibility to others. Delegate. Use technology to automate, schedule online shopping or social media posts. Use your email’s vacation responder to alert people to your need for time to respond. Eliminate tasks and sometimes even people that are unnecessary or trigger stress. 

Care for yourself. Create your environment. Connect with your community. Ritualise your day – yoga in the morning, a walk after lunch, a non-negotiable lunch time, news once a day for 30 minutes, an end and start time to the working day that you stick to, dedicated time for family to eat and play together. Tend to your physical space. Lavish yourself with the nourishing, luxurious, “good” things you put aside for “special” days. Today is a special day.

Now, we have an opportunity to get back to basics. Without travel plans, extracurricular activities, and social demands, we have an opportunity to reflect on our priorities, to better support our juggling act when the fullness of life returns. 

Balance is a skill that requires practice and allows us to live a full expression of ourselves. The gifts of balance include self-respect, improved health, the capacity to be the best version of yourself and, in turn a better mother, friend, colleague, boss, sibling, or partner. 

By Leigh Matthews, Australian Psychologist and Founder of Therapy in Barcelona, an international team of therapists working online and in office with adults, couples, children, adolescents, and families. Follow Therapy in Barcelona on Instagram @therapyinbcn or join their Therapist Led Peer Support Group on Facebook

By Leigh Matthews

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