In my role there is a lot of pressure to set a good example, which is great as I'm sure it helps to keep me on track.
I am however far from perfect!
Even though I understand so many principles about how to achieve and maintain great health and wellbeing; knowledge and application aren't always the same thing.
Just like everyone else, I have better and worse days and I have to be intentional to practise daily rituals that keep me in balance. If these start to slide (when I'm overly busy or distracted) I quickly notice in the way I feel and aim to get myself back on track.
These are my foundational building blocks which help me maintain balance. (Perhaps some of them may work for you too.)
Here's what I do every day:
• Movement – of course exercise had to be high on my list! I could rave on about how great it is not just for physical but also mental wellbeing. At the moment my routine involves daily walks and various short exercise snacks around home, mostly with bodyweight alone. I also go to a mums and bubs group class twice a week which is super social and lots of fun. Once a week I swim and another day I do an evening balance class.
• Sunlight – I make a point of getting out in the sun for at least 15 minutes every single day. This may sound simple, but I've found I have to be intentional about it. I do a quick mental check to think about when I'll fit my outdoor time into my day. Often the walk to school takes care of this, (and doubles as exercise) but twice a week we need to drive to school, so I ensure I get out for my own walk at another time, or if it's an exercise class day I may just spend time in the garden at home to get my sunlight quota.
• Sleep – I find that everything seems tougher when I'm tired, so I prioritise getting good quality sleep. I follow my tired cues and get myself to bed before I 'miss my window.' Just like babies, adults can get over-tired too. If I wake during the night I avoid any bright lights which helps me go back into a deep sleep. At present as I am being woken during the night by my beautiful babe I often take an afternoon nap (either a 15-20 minute power nap/relaxation time or sometimes a full 45 minute sleep cycle, never any longer than that.
• Hydration – I like to have a water jug and glass on my office desk and drink bottles by the couch/bedside table and in my handbag so I can stay really well hydrated all day. Our brains are over 80% water and being de-hydrated definitely affects how we feel.
• Laughter – I love to laugh and look for ways to add it into my day. I have an ironic/sarcastic sense of humour and love to tease. Even on my busiest days I get down to my kids level and play with them and laugh together. If I'm on my own I can watch a funny youtube video like this one. I aim to really let go and laugh.
• Touch – we all need positive affirming touch. While its not my primary love language (more on these here) it is still important. Cuddles, tickle fights, holding hands and massage all restore me and make me feel loved. Positive touch boosts oxytocin the 'love' hormone that makes you feel great.
• Nourishment – I ensure that I get loads of vegetables every day from a wide range of colours. Rather than ever dieting I just aim to get more veges in, a lunchtime salad is a usual for me and we have a salad entrée every evening before dinner. I am mindful to combine protein and healthy fats into all of my meals and most snacks. Perhaps most importantly when I eat, I sit down to eat and try to eat slowly and mindfully. Especially with treats which I have pretty much every day (mostly homemade baking or raw food snacks). I love to savour and truly appreciate my food.
As well as these little daily things, there are other 'bigger picture' things I aim to include in my life on an on-going basis;
• Contributing – helping in my daughters class at school, supporting causes I believe in, being a friend that is there to listen, having work that I'm passionate about and volunteering in different ways all give me the opportunity to contribute. We are all wired to give and when you think about it, giving makes us feel great. Studies show that people that volunteer on a regular basis are happier than those that don't.
• Belonging – being part of the local Ukulele club has given me a sense of belonging this year (I started going for my daughter but actually go more for me now!) Being a regular at the mums and bubs fitness sessions and befriending the ladies I've met there, being a member of toastmasters, a cooking club and other social groups all build that sense of belonging into my life.
• Creativity – again Ukulele club has been a fantastic creative outlet for me, so are writing and creating new recipes. Previously I've also done painting as a creative outlet and while I'm no Picasso and my finished works aren't amazing, the process is certainly very rewarding. We all have creativity, it's in our nature, finding a way to express it is uplifting.
• Connection – spending quality time with my husband, my children and with friends are all highly important to me. Being really busy I have to make a point of scheduling this in. We book board game nights and dinner parties in advance to see friends. I plan my writing/working times for so that I'm available to be present without distractions during family time. I really recommend regular dates with your partner no matter how long you've been together. With my kids, I get down to their level, playing, singing, tickling, discussing things that are important to them.
• Faith – perhaps above everything, having a strong faith to rely on and being able to trust that God has got everything sorted is incredibly important for me. I find that believing in something bigger than ourselves is our natural way to remain grounded and content. Needless worry is never helpful in life. With so many things being unsure, I get to just TRUST and it is so freeing.
What do you do to stay in balance? I'd love to hear your thoughts so please comment below...