Cultivating Balance in the 21st Century



Demanding jobs, raising young children or simply keeping up with the obligations associated with a busy life can result in feeling that one’s life lacks balance. It can be hard to feel entitled to balance in the modern age. The messages to be productive, to earn and spend more money, to achieve and overachieve (for both adults and children) and to post the results on social media are unrelenting. Seldom do people at the end of their lives wish they’d spent more time in the office. More often they wish they had given themselves permission to live a more balanced life so they could enjoy life more. But where is the instruction manual on how to do it?

It helps to start by noticing, and then questioning, the “should” messages in life. Perhaps certain “shoulds” were useful at one time but are not any more. It’s important to discover whose voice is behind the shoulds, and ask whether it is someone who has our best interests at heart. Another useful early step is to figure out which parts of life are in or out of balance. A good tool for this is the Wheel of Life (see illustration). To use it, mark each segment of life with a line from the center out toward the edge that corresponds to the numbers zero to 10. A line that stops near the center of the circle (0) indicates low satisfaction, whereas one that ends near the edge (10) equals great satisfaction. This provides a visual for the level of contentment in each area, and reveals the overall balance and imbalance of one’s life. Next, think of one step that can increase each number by a small amount. Since balance is the theme, shoot for only a halfpoint improvement in no more than one or two areas at once.

It takes surprisingly little time to cultivate more balance. To make a small improvement in the health and wellness segment, for example, research shows that just 20 to 30 seconds of relaxation breathing can begin to calm the body. Ideally the belly (not the chest) will go in and out with each breath. This may take practice, and breathing while lying on the back can help. Focus on the breath and, when the mind wanders, return focus back to the breath.

For those that want more fun, recreation and creativity in life, small chunks of time each day can be reclaimed for these goals, with bigger chunks available on weekends and holidays. It also helps to look at how efficiently time is being used, and whether we’re truly present for the things we’re doing or constantly preoccupied and multi-tasking. While Type A personalities might need justification for letting up even a little, studies demonstrate that taking breaks actually improves performance and productivity.

No one ever said that balancing life in the 21st century is easy, but the rewards of greater health, peace of mind and relationships make the effort well worthwhile.

Karen Welling, LICSW, is a coach and licensed therapist in Somerville who combines coaching principles with such techniques such as EFT and EMDR to help people achieve their goals. For more information, call 617-623-3703 or email Karen@KWelling.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Boston Community Gardens

The Trustees of Reservations has 56 community gardens— totaling 15 acres across eight Boston neighborhoods—that are tended and cared for by local residents.

The Benefits of Meditation with Sound Vibration in the Corporate Environment

Stress management for the corporate environment not only improves the health and wellness of each individual employee, but the health and wellness of the company as a whole.

The Lost Art of Kissing

Becoming an amazing kisser can bring access to new levels of connection with a lover, igniting passion and sensual energy with just a kiss.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The source of a woman’s obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can be misdiagnosed because of the overlapping symptoms associated with hormone changes and depression.

Mental Health Diet

The greatest strategy to decrease inflammation and thus support optimal mental health is through consuming an anti-inflammatory diet where food is used as medicine.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

Summer Programs Offer Qi-Kayaking and Floating Meditation

Greg DiLisio and Johnny Snyder will present two Qi-Kayaking and Floating Meditation workshops on June 24 to 26 and August 12 to 14 at Eastover Estate and Retreat Center, in Lenox.

Interactive E-Course on Practicing and Teaching Strain-Free Yoga

Online course on teaching and practicing yoga with no strain, whether in sitting postures or challenging poses, will begin April 1.

Firewalking Instructor Training Comes to Westport

Kerry Cudmore, a certified coach and master firewalking instructor, will offer two weekend training programs on this transformational technique on August 5 to 7 and October 14 to 16.

Integrative Allergy Treatment Offered in Plymouth

The Rothfeld Center for Integrative Medicine now offers an expanded allergy program at its Plymouth location.

Health and Wellness Show Returns to Waltham

The 2016 Health and Wellness Spring Show will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, April 10, at the Waltham Westin Hotel.

Homeopathy Now Offered at Central Square Health and Wellness

Kristine Jelstrup, a natural healthcare practitioner and owner of Central Square Health and Wellness, has added a homeopathic form of the Morphogenic Field Technique (MFT) to her list of healing therapies.