Modern day life is chaotic. We have so many tasks and responsibilities that it can be easy to push aside small concerns in order for us to keep going and get things done. Often in the rush, it can be easy to miss a shift in the balance and identify when you are no longer your usual happy self. It’s important to be self-reflective so we can notice life’s gradual changes to keep our minds well and to stop life from spinning out of control.
Everyone loves it when life flows. When positive things happen and you feel in control of all areas of your life. We feel energised and optimistic. I wish there was a way to bottle that feeling and save it for a time when life feels tough and you need some hope or inspiration.
It’s incredible how difficult we find it to notice ourselves deteriorating, or to become aware that our life is out of balance and in fact, when we aren’t very well at all. Is there a way we can overcome this? A way to recognise the balance slipping before we hit crisis point? And what is it that we can do to realign this balance? In order to answer these use first understand the following principles.
Humans are the only species with the ability to see things in a greater context, in other words, “the bigger picture”. We are able to take meaning from negative situations. Mistakes for example can offer opportunities for new insight. Interestingly, we are unable to use mechanism on a regular basis. Especially when we are feeling stressed or anxious. During these times we tend to focus on one thing or another. If we were able to take a step back and see the bigger picture during these times, and remind ourselves of what’s really important, it would be of great benefit to us.
Living in modern day, often urbanised environments can overload our senses and our minds. It can make it difficult for us to notice when things are starting to tip out of balance. It is imperative that we learn to disconnect, rest and digest in order to maintain our wellbeing. Psychologist Tony Crabbe stated that overwhelming business is not countered by rest, but by focus. If our attention is pulled in all different directions, we are less present and attentive. Think about yourself when you’re feeling stressed. How does this affect you? What might you do about it?
Despite change being the only constant in life, we still find it difficult to come to terms with. We need to find individual ways to deal with it and notice this process of change happening within us. It is important not to buy into this cult of constant happiness, and realise that anger, grief, fear etc are all also part of our experience, and their manifestation within us is just as valid as joy. Denying their presence by avoidance or sweeping it under your internal carpet is counterproductive, and means that these emotions will manifest in different, often more damaging ways. We need to be committed to raising our own self-awareness of how we are doing. By sitting with these difficult emotions, we can start to develop compassion, tolerance and resilience – all which help keep our lives in balance.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO RECOGNISE WHEN THINGS ARE SLIPPING OUT OF BALANCE
- Make a commitment – It is important to firstly make a commitment to yourself that you will practice self-reflection and set aside time to take note of your inner processes. Ensure that you are non-judgemental and that your self talk is kind and compassionate. Accept your vulnerability and work through things at your own pace. Knowing that you don’t have to solve everything at once can strengthen you.
- Teach yourself to direct your attention – As much as we like to think we can multi-task, we cant. If we have to shift our attention between too many tasks or processes, our ability to give it our best greatly diminishes. Avoid multi-tasking. Consciously direct and re-direct your attention when needed. Develop a skill or hobby to allow yourself to be absorbed in. Use meditation and relaxation. However you choose to do this, doesn’t really matter. By practicing this you will be able to better notice what is going on with your own wellbeing.
- Check in with your body – The more time you spend mindfully connecting with your body, the better you get to know it. You start to notice the tell tale signs that you are becoming tired or burnt out. Spending time outdoors can help with this process.
- Become mindful of your mind – We are believed to have 40,000 thoughts on a daily basis. 75% of these are negative. We are predisposed to seek out negativity, as this in the past has served as a survival mechanism. Nowadays, our environment isn’t as dangerous as it once was, however, our minds haven’t been able to shift out of this habit of negative thinking. Make it a conscious effort to seek out the positive. To listen to positive news, challenge negative thoughts and make firm decisions about the quality of your thoughts. This will keep you afloat in difficult times.
- Connect with others – Interactions with others is vital to our sense of self and our feeling of connectedness with others. Even the most introverted people need social interactions in order to survive or experience a sense of fulfilment. Be mindful of your interactions with others. Irritability, poor listening and agitation can all be signs that your balance is slipping. If you’re usually patient, happy and open then the former can be tell tale signs that something isn’t right.
By consciously implementing these steps and setting aside time to be reflective and mindful, you will start to become familiar with your own “wellness language”. You will be able to recognise and identify when your mental, emotional or physical health might be deteriorating and put things in place to restore the balance. The most important thing is finding what works for you. There is no correct answer, and everyone’s wellness language is different. Make a commitment to get to know yourself. You will be all the better for it! I would love to know what works for you – get in touch or leave a comment below!