is one of those things that we all know is really important – and that almost all of us struggle with for much of the time.
Have you ever found yourself being rushed off your feet at work? or struggling to make time for family or friends due to certain other commitments that have completely dominated your waking hours?
You already know that it feels pretty awful and “wrong” to have all of your life’s energies going solely in one direction – at least, if that direction isn’t something that you would happily and consciously surrender everything else in your life for.
Ancient religions, cultures, and traditions from around the world emphasise the importance of balance and harmony for health, well-being, and even the stability of the individual and the society they inhabit.
Aristotle wrote about the “Golden Mean,” and argued that every “virtue” was found in between two “vices” on the extremes. Courage, for example, was the virtue between cowardice on the one hand, and recklessness on the other hand.
These days, many of us are chronically stressed, anxious, depressed, and ill. There are various medications and medical treatments that can help with some of the recurring conditions that people experience, and it’s good to live in a time when services like an NHS repeat prescription app are on offer.
All the same, the first and best solution for these kinds of problems is often finding more balance in life.
Here are a few tips for enhancing your health through balance:
1) Surround yourself with people who embody the kind of lifestyle you aspire to
You might think that, no matter who you surround yourself with, you are “in control” enough to totally determine your own habits, your fitness, your attitudes, and all the rest.
Of course, you are actually “in the driver’s seat” and you can push yourself to do things even if the people around you go in a different direction. But, it’s much easier to “go with the flow” of your friends and acquaintances than it is to go against it.
In recent times, some fascinating research has been done in the social sciences that seems to show that who we surround ourselves with really does affect us on all kinds of levels that we are not necessarily even consciously aware of half the time.
It’s not hard to see how people who have more friends who smoke and drink heavily are likely to end up smoking and drinking themselves – it’s all about fitting in with the group and socialising in a way that everyone is on board with.
Of course, if you’ve got close friends who are dear to you but who have various negative and imbalanced habits, you don’t have to just cut them out of your life. But, you should really try to also join different groups where you will spend time socialising with people who embody the kind of lifestyle you aspire to.
2) Pressure and push yourself in a variety of areas of your life – not just one or two
Sometimes, “balance” really is about finding the time to just sit around and do nothing – and, of course, to catch up on sleep.
In many cases, though, what you need in order to have a more “balanced” and “harmonious” life is not actually more time spent sitting on the sofa or soaking in the bath.
Often, the way to have a more balanced, healthy, and uplifting life is to pressure and push yourself in a variety of different areas of your life, instead of just one or two.
People are generally at their happiest when their lives are filled with different pastimes that they find meaningful, and that they can invest their energy in on a regular basis.
Of course, if your job is all about filling in spreadsheets, and filling in spreadsheets is just about the only thing that you do, you are likely to feel seriously burned out and stressed quite quickly.
In this case, the key to balance probably isn’t spending more of your free time meditating on the couch. It’s more likely to be something like doing a regular sporting activity, and picking up different hobbies that take you away from the computer and your usual data entry errands.
Various people over the last century or so have looked at the problem of stress and have argued that it’s not really so much about people being under “too much pressure.”
In many cases, it might just be a matter of too much pressure in one area, and not enough pressure in other areas.
3) Sleep like it actually matters
Although more “passive time” often isn’t going to be the key to having a more balanced life, getting more sleep often will be.
Sleep is one of the most important biological processes that we all carry out on a regular basis. If you’re sleep deprived for too long you will get severe brain damage and then die. But even moderate sleep deprivation for a moderate amount of time can really do some harm according to experts on the topic.
The sleep scientist Matthew Walker, for example, argues in his book, “Why We Sleep,” that getting too little sleep turns you prediabetic within days, ruins your memory, throws your hormones completely out of balance, and massively increases your chance of developing fatal health conditions.
Plenty of people these days end up getting too little sleep not because they really have to be awake in order to hustle, but because… well, we all have electric lighting and Netflix is really addictive.
Try to make a point of sleeping like it actually matters. That means: avoid stimulants like caffeine late in the day, dim the lights and turn off the computer and digital devices a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed, and do some calm, relaxed activities in the evening like reading.
4) Practice a bit of “digital minimalism” and embrace the present moment
The internet is an amazing tool and virtually everyone these days has the kind of high-tech digital devices in their pockets.
But the thing is, when you allow yourself to get too caught up in chronic app surfing, you’re almost certainly leading yourself into a state of permanent distraction and heightened stress.
Instead of drifting off into a completely detached and imbalanced life – how about practising a bit of what the author and academic Cal Newport calls “Digital minimalism?” Try to only use the high-tech gadgets as much as you really need to – and find other sources of everyday entertainment.
If you like this article, you may also like Is Your Social Life Making You Sick?
This post was written with collaboration with FATJOE