Creating balance against all the odds
Are you a professional life juggler?
Life is just so busy nowadays and we find ourselves with an ever increasing number of often competing roles…..wife, husband, Mum, Dad, carer, work colleague, kids’ taxi driver, homework helper, friend, ever-present social media watcher/contributor….oh stop that’s enough- I’m feeling quite overwhelmed just thinking about it!
Given this often frantic existence, the idea of creating balance may seem like an ask too far…but is it?
We know that wellbeing is strongly associated with a sense of balance and when we are out of balance our wellbeing suffers. But what is it exactly that we are supposed to be balancing?
We can think about balance in terms of our roles, and try to compartmentalise our time so that each role is dedicated sufficient time and energy to feel we are on top of things. That’s certainly one way.
However, we believe there’s a better way to create balance and wellbeing, and it starts with YOU!
Let me introduce you to a fabulous concept known as Primary Food.
First, you need to know that Secondary Food is the food that we eat. This suggests that there’s something with which we nourish ourselves that’s even more important than our food choices. And of course, there is!
Primary Foods are those areas of our lives which when satisfied lead to fulfilment and purpose and include things like relationships, creativity, career and joy. Balance within each of these areas is what then leads to wellbeing.
An imbalance in Primary foods will lead to poor Secondary Food choices; emotions are often at the route of poor eating habits. Remember eating a family pack of crisps when you felt sad?
The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (which just happens to be where I studied!) highlights 12 areas within their Circle of Life Tool which when in balance, lead to wellbeing. If you don’t have balance within all of these areas, something will suffer and it will usually show up in your physical and/or emotional health.
To truly appreciate the relationship between Primary and Secondary foods we need to understand the connection between our mind and body and learn how to listen to the body. Our bodies are amazing and will always tell us when things aren’t right but we don’t always hear. Perhaps we are just too busy to listen or sometimes we hear but we don’t like what we are being told. The Circle of Life offers a very real, individualised and exciting way to consider balance- it’s up to you to decide what each area means, rather than being told by somebody else what it should mean. How refreshing!
So here’s the circle and here’s how it works. Grab a pencil and work your way around each section placing a dot to indicate your current level of satisfaction within each area. The closer to the centre, the lower your level of satisfaction and the closer to the outer edge, the greater your level of satisfaction. Once you’ve done your dots, join them all together to create a circle (of sorts!).
(To make this easier for you, we’ve created a handy downloadable pdf. You can grab your copy here.)
Overwhelm can often leave us feeling totally confused about just what is out of balance and therefore with no clue of how to go about rectifying whatever the problem is.
Your completed Circle of Life will give you an instant visual of the areas where you feel happier and the areas that you may want to focus on in order to create more balance. It’s a great way to bring some clarity.
A simple way to use the image you have created is to ask yourself this question:
‘What three things can I do differently to make positive changes in those areas which appear to be out of balance?’
Before you pledge to cycle across America or completely overhaul your diet, consider this: small things make a big difference! The idea is not to create further overwhelm or imbalance but to take a gentle, curious approach to what might make a difference.
If the change you try works, great! If not, enjoy what you have learned from the experience and try something else (rather than telling yourself off!).
Learn to listen to your body, trust in your intuition and have fun with this. At the end of this exercise you may still feel that you have lots of things to juggle (though you may also realise that some things can actually be dropped…literally!). But with a sense of balance, and taking time to do things that you love, you’ll feel more energised and focused to accomplish those other tasks.
Want to explore the Circle of Life Tool further? We’d love to offer you a free one hour Wellbeing Assessment.