Finding balance: Tip the Scales in Your Favor

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As a new graduate student, I find that although I still have the same 24 hours in each day I’ve always had, time seems to run out much faster than it ever did before. By the time I meet the basic daily requirements of class, studying, writing papers, and work, it seems like the day is over. Things like relaxation time, hobbies, relationships, even eating and sleeping (ok, sometimes showering) tend to fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

While we all live very different lives and our daily routines might look nothing alike, the universal search for balance unites us all. From the college student to the stay-at-home mom, we have to prioritize and sacrifice in order to meet all the demands on our time. We live in a fast-paced society that can easily trap us into neglecting our emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or other needs that can too easily fall through the cracks. Perhaps we are even deceived into thinking such needs are unimportant; we might feel guilty for wanting to devote our time to those things when we could be working more hours, studying more hours, keeping the house clean, balancing the checkbook, etc. However, a life in balance gives a peace of mind that allows us to achieve authentic happiness.

When there is an imbalance in the body, illness and disease occurs. Likewise, a lack of balance in our lives can be like a cancer that erodes our happiness and quality of life. This can often manifest itself in our families and relationships, because when we neglect ourselves we are doing our loved ones a disservice. We are unable to give them the best of ourselves. There are a few easy concepts we can use to start achieving a more balanced life, today.

First, learn when to say no. There will always be an endless supply of demands on your time, and many of them good and worthy causes. However, the point of finding balance is to give all the areas of your life the attention they need, and that means not being able to accept every request you may receive. Second, allow yourself to ask for help and rely on your network of support when needed.Third, cut out or limit things that are taking up your time but not significantly contributing to your needs or allowing you to more efficiently complete tasks. Do you really need to spend a full hour on facebook/ myspace/ your sister’s blog? Fourth, start small. Setting aside small chunks of time is better than no time at all for something that’s important to you. When beginning a task, be mindful and stay in the present, giving it your all rather than allowing yourself to be distracted by other tasks. It might seem like watching t.v. and writing a paper at the same time is a good way to mix business and pleasure, but you likely aren’t devoting enough attention to either activity to be worth the time you’re putting into it. The same goes for relationships– when you’re spending time with your significant other, remember to make it quality time and specifically focus on giving them your full attention whenever possible. Everyone wants to feel important to their loved ones.

Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Let us remember as we are constantly moving through life to strive to find harmony and balance in ourselves and in turn, discover we are able to devote our best selves to our significant others, families, and friends for healthier, more satisfying relationships.

Kristy Malone, Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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