Vitality The Mind-Body Approach to a Balanced Life The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it. By Lauren Messer The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it. Ever had one of those whirlwind stretches of time where you have an absolutely fantastic time on vacation, spend amazing time with a significant other, or work so hard on a project that you finally receive that big promotion? Remember those awesome feelings? Wow, this place is so beautiful and relaxing! I’m pretty sure it’s love! Yes, I did it! Then comes that sweeping reality check … wait, when was the last time I went to the gym? Are those leftovers in the sole piece of tupperware in the refrigerator from last week or the week before that? I don’t have at least one clean pair of underwear, anywhere? You’ve got to be kidding me. I love it when things are going splendidly well in one or more areas of my life, but why does it always seem that for those things to be spectacular, something else has to give? As a Libra and staunch advocate of work-life balance, I wholeheartedly support those who realize when it’s time to get things in check physically, mentally, and spiritually. My best recommendation about where to start is to think about the thing that you miss most. What was it that caught your attention and made you realize the imbalance in your life? Give these tips a try the next time you feel the scales dipping one way or the other. Sometimes the best way to balance the mind is to start with the body. Get up. Take a walk. Get outside. Have an office job? Don’t know if it’s raining or sunny outside? As difficult as it may seem to hop up off the couch after a long day, one of the best things you can do for a tired mind is to stimulate it with movement. Studies show that something as simple as going for a walk can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. If you’ve been working late and putting off your workouts, now is the time to incorporate some kind of movement into your day. Slow down. People debate about the ideal average number of hours of sleep that we are supposed to get each night. In my opinion, it really is up to you. As a trainer, I tell people this all the time. Listen to your body and what’s best for you. If you know it takes eight hours of sleep to really feel good the next day, make an effort to wind down early enough to get that much needed time to recover. If we don’t take the time to let our bodies repair, they will eventually break down and will force us to stop. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to mentally and physically cope with an injury or illness while still trying to maintain all the other areas of life. Feed your body fuel. It’s no secret that we are what we eat. If you’ve let your diet slip, do yourself a favor and get it back on track. If you’ve been eating too many meals out, set aside a day for cooking or grilling that will allow you to make several meals for the week. Changes as small as having a few meals prepared during the week can take away from the stress of having to grab something that might be unhealthy while you’re on the run. An easy place to start is with the Paleo Diet. A well-balanced, clean diet can even improve your immune system. Other times, the best way to find physical balance is to engage the mind. Invest in your creativity. Life can very quickly become routine if we let it. While a certain level of conscientiousness can definitely be rewarding, we can benefit from allowing our mind some unstructured time to indulge in a favorite hobby or learn something new. Taking a class or working on a project with a friend is an easy way to combine some social time with your creative endeavors. Read. I start most books with the best intent to finish them but somehow, even if they’re interesting, I’m either too tired or too busy and distracted to dedicate the time to completing more than the first few chapters. My easy solution: read something shorter. Daily calendars usually work well for me. Whether it’s a quote to think about or a quick fact about something random, it stimulates the brain to think about something else before we begin packing school lunches, answering emails, and making phone calls that will distract us for the rest of the day. Meditate. In this busy world, we rarely stop to give ourselves a moment of peace and quiet. Even if we get a moment alone, we’re prone to turning on the television or music for some background noise, not to mention that most of us probably can’t go longer than 10 minutes without taking a peek at our phone screen to see if we have any incoming notifications. That being said, start with just five minutes of slow breathing and letting thoughts come and go from your mind. Sound too difficult? I found a couple of these little cheat methods very helpful at Five Minutes of Zen. One of the greatest challenges of balancing life is the fact that it takes constant maintenance. Once we think we’ve got it all worked out, life throws more weight onto one side of the scale or the other and we must figure out how to manage it once again: challenge accepted. Photo by Sasha Juliard — Originally posted on Holstee’s Mindful Matter, the best place to read stories and tips on how to live life fully. Lauren Messer is a renaissance millennial striving to create balance while learning from the moments in her journey. As a producer in media production, she is on the forefront of content driven visual messaging. She has her Masters of Communications Studies from the University of Alabama, is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and ESL tutor in Dallas, Texas.