Must Have’s for a Balanced Life

I have noticed a bunch of posts and challenges popping up lately where people are posting their “must have’s” for various skills sets, such as crafting, cooking, business, working out, wardrobes, etc. It made me stop and think, what are some of the must have that we should all have for a balanced life? Don’t get me wrong, I agree that a great pair of winter boots, or the right pair of fuzzy slippers feels like an essential in Chicago winters, but something made me want to step back and think even further about my overall well-being. What really feeds us and keep us balanced? I think the very heart of things starts off with defining for ourselves what balance means to us. While we may need some of these things in different amounts, there are a few fundamentals that each of us require.

We need a balance of independence and togetherness. What this exact balance is for each of us personally, may vary from person to person, but it is important nonetheless. Each of us needs time alone to decompress and have some personal space. We also need to feel a sense of connectedness with others. To little or too much of one can make us feel out of sorts. Too much time by ourselves can make us feel lonely, and too much time with others can make us feel anxious, so we need to make sure that we are making the effort to strike the right balance for ourselves. Sometimes it is a system of trial and error to find out what is the right amount for us personally, but we just need to listen to our inner voice when it tells us that it is too little or too much.

Another essential piece of a balanced life is self-care. We always seem to be able to tell others to take care of themselves, but we don’t take the time to practice the same love and patience with ourselves. Doing things like getting enough sleep each day by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Eating foods that nourish you. Drinking 8 glasses of water each day. Eating well year-round. While traditions are wonderful, and holiday food is delicious, you can enjoy in moderation, and not have to diet and fast in January. If you keep the idea of nourishing yourself year-round in mind, but allowing yourself to enjoy things in moderation, you never have to put yourself through diets, starvation, fasts, cleanses, and the like. That is balance.

Surround yourself with people who feed your soul, and not people who pollute it. By this I mean, do not feel guilty about deciding to set boundaries with, or remove toxic people from your life. We should all involve ourselves with people who are positive influences in our lives. Those who build us up, support us, are honest, but fair, and those who have our best interests at heart. It is about giving ourselves permission to let people go from our lives who make us feel bad about ourselves, or who take every opportunity to criticize our choices and our lives. There is enough negativity in the world, we don’t need to choose to have it in those closest to us.

Remove negative self-talk from your life. Spend one day and be mindful of how often you start to think something negative about yourself, someone else, or the outcome of a situation. Now think about how much better your outlook and your life might be if you simply stopped yourself at the start of these thoughts. I have worked with many people to remove these thoughts from their daily lives, and the difference has been profound. Challenge yourself to see how much more balance your can restore to your life, and how much negativity you can remove from it, by removing negative self-talk.

Scale down and get organized. Even if you have a lot of “stuff,” you can get it organized. Make it your goal to make your space your solitude. Your home is supposed to be where you are at peace. Clutter genuinely creates anxiety. Make this the month and the year where you decide to organize, donate, and get control of your home. If you have not used it in a year, donate it. If things belong together, get storage and contain them. Group things together where they make sense. Move things where they work and function for you. Get rid of things that no longer work, are expired, are outdated, or that could do someone else more good than they are doing sitting in a pile in your home. You will not miss them, and you will feel good for sharing the love. Nothing feels quite as good as completely organizing and getting control of your space. It truly makes it feel like a functional home that is “yours,” and that you can live and breath in.

Let 2018 be the year where you finally restore balance into your life. As you can see from this list, it really is simple. Just a few thoughtful adjustments to your daily and weekly routine, and you could find yourself feeling far more centered and peaceful then you have in quite some time. The changes truly are obvious, and are things that most of us know, but just lose sight of. This is just human nature. We all know what we should do that is best for us, but we seem to make time for everyone but ourselves it seems. This year, let’s commit to ourselves, and by doing so, we will be more balanced in all areas of our lives.

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. LCPC, Contributor [Tele-health counselor for, Adjunct Professor, Consultant, and Writer].

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