Are there benefits to living a balanced life?
Benefits of a balanced life
I think most of us will agree – if asked what is the one thing that you want more than anything else, the answer usually is “more time, less to do and more freedom”. In short, we all need balance. Most of our lives are out of whack, leaning precariously more to one of our responsibilities, be it work, family, or health. The moment that one aspect or part of your life dominates, taking up most of your time or energy or money, your life is out of balance.
As I explained in a previous post (What is a balanced life) balance doesn’t mean that all things in your life are equal. It simply means that if you spend more time on one thing, you need to counter that by spending more energy on another. This results in a dance whose steps are forever changing. Your responsibilities and priorities will shift. What people (and yourself) expect from you will change. Your health, goals, dreams, etc. will change. If you do not change your dance, you will fall and fail. To use a metaphor from the previous post, when I think of balance I picture an old fashioned merry-go-round consisting of 6 different sections that must be brought into balance before the merry-go-round will actually go round. If one of these sections is heavier than the rest, the merry-go-round will sag at that section and most probably won’t be able to work properly. That is life balance. When you have more than 2 things that you need to consider equally to ensure that one part of your life isn’t sagging.
According to me, the 6 aspects that I feel we should be focussing on to lead balanced lives are:
What we think, how we think, and when we think divines us more than the clothes we wear, even the people that we surround ourselves with. In any case, these decisions will flow from our minds, which forms beliefs, habits, and ultimately lifestyle. To balance our minds, as part of a balanced life, we need to take into consideration our mental health, habits and routines, behaviour, memory, and our decisions.
Mother Earth is ingenious and gorgeous, and we were chosen to live here with her. That is the hidden truth - we were chosen to live with the planet, not on it or because of it. Synergy, balance and peace. To balance the relationship we have with nature, and ultimately to bring that balance into our everyday lives, we have to think about how we protect the earth, how we contribute to waste, as well as the natural alternatives that we can safely and effectively use as part of our lives.
Since work plays a major part of our lives, this should be one of the first places that you tackle to bring your life back in balance. Setting up healthy parameters, having the right goals, and choosing the right mentors are all steps in the right direction. As you can see from the diagram above, work should be equally important as the rest of the aspects, even if you spend most of your time there. I know that is tricky! Things we will discuss as part of your work balance include your attitude and beliefs regarding money, how to set and achieve your goals, being an entrepreneur and overcoming those challenges, how to be productive and focus, and how to nurture your creativity.
How we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. Self-love starts with other love and usually ends with it as well. Most things in life go full circle. If you have healthy and strong relationships with the most important people in your life you not only have a solid support network, but you also have a tribe of people who can gently and in love call you out when you are going off track. Much like a recovering addict has a sponsor your loved ones becomes your safety net, your defence system and your personal cheer-squad. These relationships cover friendships, partnerships, kids, colleagues, and yourself.
We are all spirits, living here in temporary bodies. Once you realise this is all fleeting, you should have an urge to know more than yourself. Bringing your spiritual life into balance takes more than simply discovering or deepening your faith. It covers being spiritual in any context and ends in learning how to serve others. To help with this balance, I have added meditation to this aspect.
Lastly, our bodies. The temporary homes of our eternal spirits. Being kind and attentive to your body, the ultimate goal of a balanced life means paying attention to what you eat, when you eat, how you move, the products you use, and how much you sleep. As I already mentioned, balance is a continuous thing - when external factors change, we need to adapt to keep our balance. In this case that can mean drinking more water when it is hot, moving less when you are in pain and sleeping more when you are anxious or overwhelmed.
But why is this important? Well other than the fact that you will be able to “do it all” (mom, partner, business woman, friend, daughter, etc.) there are a few other benefits associated with living a balanced life. These range from boosting your happiness to stimulating your creativity, making you more productive, healthy and stable.
Some of the benefits:
1. Boosting happiness
Knowing that you are all that you can be, the best you can be is not just liberating but joyous. True happiness starts from within, and when your internal environment is in balance it will start to cypher to your external environment. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm.
2. Stimulate your creativity
When you remove the stress associated with staying afloat, kind of like paddling like a duck underwater, then you have that extra energy to spend on being innovative. Living in balance translates to being well-rested, and that also sets you up to be creative. And creativity is a major part of living a balanced life - creativity can help you understand what you truly desire in life.
3. It makes you a great leader
Living within your own boundaries makes it easier to accept that others need to live within theirs. Realising this, and forcing your employees to also live within theirs, means you get to tap into their available potential. And a happy workforce makes leading easy. A balanced leader will develop a healthier business, being able to delegate, manage time more effectively and being more intentional in their decision-making.
4. Enjoy freedom
Having balance means having the opportunity to say no, giving you the freedom to actually have a life. You also have the freedom to decide about your own health, on your own terms. You free yourself to ignore social pressures and begin creating a life that you want to live.
5. Reduce stress
Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which influences your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and your ability to fight off illness. Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace.
6. Improves general health and wellbeing
Being conscious of how much work and hours and stress your body can handle will enable you to anticipate and counter burnout when you are going into very busy seasons or times. Knowing your limits will also keep you from overworking, giving you time to relax and pay attention to the other facets of your life. By reigning in your hours and workload you minimise your stress, support your immune system and keep yourself from staring complete exhaustion in the face.
7. Improves your mental state of mind
Your mental health influences how you think, feel, and behave in daily life. By living a more balanced life you improve your chances of having a healthy and stable mental state. By focusing on balancing your life you regain control, and that is one of the breakthroughs in stress, anxiety and depression. Eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, moving your body and drinking enough water also goes a long way in improving your mental health.
8. Helps to boost your energy
Not only does living a balanced life means you don’t waste energy on unnecessary or unfulfilling things, but also that you can use the energy that you get from living a satisfying life in pursuit of your bigger dreams. A fulfilling life will drive you and spur you on, giving you the motivation to keep going.
9. You will be more productive
By prioritising and setting goals you will be able to get more done, probably in less time. Because you know what is more important to you, you will stop spending time and energy on trivial exercises, rather focussing on the things that matter. Also, by switching your attention off of a certain part of your life (such as not checking emails over weekends or staying off of social media in the evenings) you will be able to return to a problem with fresh eyes, making you more likely to think of a solution.
Finding balance leads to greater life satisfaction and well-being—which improves your ability to find balance in the future. And that is the biggest benefit of them all!
What are you doing to bring more balance into your life?