Thanks to the rise of self-care in 2018 and public figures such as Michelle Obama highlighting the departure from this “do it all, all the time—effortlessly” mentality, our sights are now set on less stress-inducing ways to manage the lives we lead.
Instead of lengthy checklists that must be accomplished in order to appear balanced, we’re waking up to the idea that it’s more important to find ways to feel fulfilled and grounded in our actual daily lives.
As human beings, we have areas such as work, home, money, health, and relationships to manage at any given moment, which can leave us feeling unbalanced and out of control. So many of us can relate to this struggle—how do I do it all and make time for myself? The truth is: There’s no way we can devote the exact same amount of time and energy to each aspect of our lives at all times. That’s just too much.
What we can do: Make “me time” not another thing to build into our day, but a regular daily habit. That’s where balancing acts come in.
When an aspect of your life is taking up more energy than you can muster, it’s important to take the time to find ways, or balancing acts, to recalibrate. These acts should leave you with a sense of calm, help you feel grounded, and help you reset so you can tackle the other parts of your life.
Gymnasts are prime examples of balancing acts. Once they run, flip, and land on a balance beam, the gymnast must take a moment to pause and stabilize their center of gravity before proceeding to the next move—or they risk falling off.
It’s similar in our everyday lives: When we are being pulled in a million different directions and starting to feel shaky, it’s important that we find ways to get centered—even if it’s only a few minutes or breaths we can steal between activities—and then move forward.
Pinpoint What Balance Means to You
Before jumping into ways to cope with that unbalanced feeling, it’s important to first understand what exactly balance means to you.
Balance isn’t a laundry list of all the things you’d like to accomplish all at once—like making new friends while also maintaining old friendships, and also getting a promotion, while still getting out there to date, followed by going to the gym daily and so forth.
Instead, think about when you feel most accomplished and fulfilled. Envision a small but mighty list of what’s most important to you. These are the areas you should be distributing your time and energy to most frequently.
Similar to the practice of self-care, balance isn’t one-size-fits-all. We each have our own idea of what areas of our lives make us feel the most fulfilled, and they shouldn’t be dictated by the standards set by those around you.
Identify Your Balancing Acts
Once you’ve fine-tuned your list of things to fit into your day-to-day, it’s time to pinpoint the balancing acts that can help you reset when it gets overwhelming.
Balancing acts are any activity that can either directly or indirectly help you feel more centered.
When feeling overwhelmed and unbalanced, for example, it may be best to pull up an at-home yoga workout on YouTube or listen to a Shine Talk meditation. Or, if you’re in a time crunch, it could be stealing a few minutes in between meetings to do some breathwork.
Getting coffee or taking a walk with a close friend is another indirect balancing act that can bring us back to center. Looking outside of yourself can bring a new perspective or their company can simply help take your mind off of things for a minute so that you can return with fresh eyes.
In other instances, you may need a more direct course of action to help keep yourself feeling balanced, such as finding ways to better prioritize. When we write things out instead of juggling with them in our minds, we can truly assess their importance.
Another direct balancing act is setting boundaries. Overextending ourselves is a surefire way to make us feel unbalanced or out of control. Though it may be intimidating at first, it is important to set boundaries, whether they are with your friends, loved ones or even your boss and colleagues.
My challenge to you as we get into 2019: Make a list of your balancing acts—activities that help you feel a little more centered and grounded. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s your cue to do one of those activities—whether it’s as quick as a few deep breaths or as long as a yoga video.
My guess: It’ll help you regain your balance at the moment and also carve out new moments of “me time.”
A version of this post was originally featured on Shine.