Keeping Balance in Life
More often than not, our efforts to lead a balanced lifestyle fall short. Whether it’s work getting busy or relationships that need your time and attention, sometimes we just don’t have room in our day for everything and that’s OK. Yet, as a coach, I have seen more and more individuals showing signs (both physically and mentally) of trying to accomplish everything all in one day. These individuals show high levels of stress, they are injured/sore all the time, constantly feel fatigued, are sleeping poorly as well as have a hard time dealing with mental tasks. But it doesn’t have to always be stress and injury over longevity and a slower pace. By finding some form of balance between external factors such as work and our own health, we can consistently achieve our goals without having to deal with repeated setbacks.
In this blog, I have briefly outlined some ways I have found to de-stress and create some sense of balance in my life. This isn’t a ‘try everything at once right now’ suggestion though, perhaps you try changing one thing in your life for a few weeks, allow yourself to make real change in that one area and from there make another small change. Remember small steps are what make the long journey possible!
Our body is designed to move, lift, walk and run! Our shift to a constantly sedentary lifestyle has dramatically changed our physiology. We need movement to shift blood around the body, keep our heart and lungs strong, maintain muscle mass and even prevent the onset of diseases such as Type II diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis (1,2). Exercise is the holy grail of disease prevention (and it's free).
- Don’t just think ‘gym’: Exercise can be classed as a lot more than going to the gym, simply walking for more than ~10 minutes during lunch, parking the car further away from work or even biking can all be great ways to exercise. Think outside the norms when it comes to how you move!
How many times have you had a bad day or two of eating only to find your lethargic, lack mental focus and are easily irritable? How we eat can have a direct influence on both mental and physical performance yet is overlooked time again. While it seems every man and his dog have the trick when it comes to dieting, detox’s and pointless ‘juice cleanses’ you simply cannot beat the classics.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” – Greg Glassman
- Stick to the outside of the supermarket: Fresh meat and vegetables are primed with nutrients that our body will lovingly take in. If possible, stick to the outside of the supermarket where the fresher items such as meats and vegetables tend to be and reduce your reliance on packaged goods.
- Chew, chew, chew your food: When you sit down to eat, are you a chewer or a shoveler? Next time you eat, set aside a small window to really get to know what you’re eating, that means chewing mouthfuls for a minimum of 15-20 times before swallowing. Slowing it down gives your body a chance to process and prime your digestive systems, meaning you’ll feel fuller after eating and more satisfied with your food.
- Drink the water: With our body being ~60% water, without proper hydration, our bodies can start to slow down. Slower mental processing means sticking to that gym session after work or keeping to your diet for the day becomes harder. If you’re struggling to drink enough, try having your water bottle visible on your desk, the visual cue can you remember to drink up!
For the average adult, it's suggested we get 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night. On the whole, we can usually deal with one or two bad nights of sleep, that’s life sometimes but sleeping poorly week after week could have an effect on our endocrine functions such as glucose metabolism as well as increase our risk of obesity (3). How we recover greatly influences how we perform, so dedicate some time to sleeping well.
- Find a relaxing routine: Before I go to bed I usually go through my pre-bed routine, this helps me switch from work mode to relaxation mode. That means reducing screen time, clean the kitchen for the next morning’s breakfast, warm shower (30 minutes or more before bed), reading and making sure my bedroom is cool and dark. Find what works for you, anything that helps slow your mind down and create a relaxing environment.
Small changes can go a long way and have the potential to make a great impact on how you deal with daily stress. Give one or two of these tips and go, learn from them, see what does and what doesn’t work for you, there is no one right answer when it comes to your life and finding balance,
- Garrick Hately.
1. Kjekshus, J. (2019). The effect of physical activity on mortality and cardiovascular disease in 130 000 people from 17 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: The PURE study. The Lancet. doi:10.3410/f.731312458.793557873
2. Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2010). Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Health: Paradigm Paralysis or Paradigm Shift? Diabetes,59(11), 2717-2725. doi:10.2337/db10-0822
3. Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Leproult, R., & Cauter, E. V. (2009). Effects of poor and short sleep on glucose metabolism and obesity risk. Nature Reviews Endocrinology,5(5), 253-261. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2009.23