BRING BALANCE TO YOUR LIFE
Believe it or not, the prescription for maintaining balance for the vast majority of women is this:
Learn how to take care of yourself instead of taking care of everyone else except yourself. This doesn’t mean being selfish or self-centered. Far from it. But how can you take care of your loved ones if you’re sick? How can you help others have a high quality of life if your own quality of life is low?
Learning how to take care of yourself usually boils down to learning how to pay attention to what you need to stay in balance, or to put it another way, learning how to pay attention to what throws you out of balance, and being willing to change it. The concept of bringing balance into your life is a beautiful one that can be applied to everything you think, say, and do. It can be equally applied to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life. Just taking an inventory of what’s in balance and what’s out of balance in your life is a remarkably eye-opening and healing process.
Sometimes we need help identifying which parts of ourselves are out of balance. On the surface it may appear that you have everything you could wish for. The simple awareness that you are neglecting an important part of yourself, and you willingness to change, may open up a whole new life for you. Greater awareness can come in the form of a spiritual teacher, a book, a journal, a creative hobby, a friend or relative, a member of the clergy, or a therapist. Sometimes it just takes a vacation to give us perspective on our lives.
One way to help bring your life into balance is to identify the areas where you’re at an extreme in your life and then to take small, simple steps to begin to bring that part of your life back to center.
If you know that coffee is unsetting your stomach but you can’t seem to quit the habit, start with a small step of drinking what is now called a “half-caff” coffee, which is half decaffeinated. It it’s difficult for you not to be compulsive about keeping the house clean, and you tend to stay up past midnight vacuuming, begin with one room and let the dust bunnies collect under a piece of furniture there. On the other hand, if your house is so cluttered there’s hardly space to walk between the piles, begin cleaning one small corner of one room. If you’re a perfectionist about putting on a meal for your family every night, try using paper plates one or two nights a week. If you can’t seem to get anything but fast food or TV dinners on the table, start with cooking a quick, simple dinner rather than a gourmet meal that involves hours of preparation. If you’re the queen of incompletion and can never seem to finish anything you start, make a list and then begin by finishing one small task and crossing it off. If you make a goal of completing everything in a week, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
As you bring your life into balance, going to extremes to do it will just throw you into another state of imbalance. Be gentle with yourself. If there’s no way you’re ever going to let a dust bunny be born under your couch, find another area of your life to ease up on.
Most women in the midcycle of life are trying to do too much and that in and of itself is a setup for a hormonal imbalance. But there are some strategies for staying more centered that can apply to most premenopausal women. Here’s a thumbnail sketch that can get you started with your own personal list.