Keeping our balance in life is no small feat. Many of us struggle with how much time to devote to our relationships, hobbies, self-care, and even work. It’s not unusual to lose our footing as we try to navigate all our priorities in life, and find ourselves struggling to come up for air. The truth is balance is a moving target. We may have periods in our lives where we feel we can conquer the world and find ourselves taking on all kinds of tasks. Other times, we may find ourselves burned out, whether from challenging life situations or simply a period of low energy and motivation. It is important that we are consistently checking in with ourselves to know how to best meet our needs. Just as important as knowing what we’re needing is validating for ourselves that it is ok to be mindful of those needs. Some days we need to give ourselves permission to take a break. If the most I can get done in a day is getting up and getting dressed, that is okay. Below are some of my favorite coping strategies for when life is feeling a bit out of whack:
1.) Bilateral Stimulation
When we stimulate both sides of our body it soothes the nervous system. This is partially why going for a walk can be such an effective coping skill. We can also create this response by crossing one arm over the other in an X across our chest and gently tapping each shoulder in a slow rhythm, alternating which side we tap.
2.) Grounding Techniques
A grounding technique is used to divert our attention from worrisome thoughts to calm thoughts. This can be done by finding 10 things in a room of a certain color, paying attention to our 5 senses, or just by looking at our feet and reminding ourselves where we are and that we are safe.
3.) Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is the process of soothing our entire nervous system. By steadily tensing and relaxing each muscle we can trick our body into a state of calm. This can be done anywhere in small doses or with our whole body. For some added guidance there are plenty of walk-throughs of this on Youtube.
Art combines some of my favorite emotional regulation strategies. There is bilateral stimulation, particularly if we are using both hands to draw, paint, play music, etc. There is an aspect of mindfulness as our attention and focus are primarily on the art we are creating. Finally, we receive a sense of accomplishment from creating something new! If you find you struggle with artistry or hand-eye coordination, a coloring book can be a great starting place for this.
5.) Take A Step Back
Many times when we are feeling burned out or overwhelmed it may come from too much sensory input or spiraling anxious thoughts. Both of these challenges can often be resolved by allowing ourselves to take a break. Research has indicated that our brains aren't meant to spend more than 40 minutes at a time intensely focused on something. If we find ourselves at the breaking point walking away and allowing ourselves to engage in something low-stress may help us to get a new perspective on whatever issues we are encountering.
Silly as this one may sound, singing engages our diaphragm and encourages deeper breathing that we do moment to moment. Additionally, singing helps us to return our thoughts to something engaging, fun, and low stakes. So, if all else fails, sing your heart out!
However you find balance in your life is alright. If you find that you are struggling with balancing the various facets of your life I'm here to help. Balance can be tricky to understand - you don’t have to do it alone!