It is easiest to think about our lives, in terms of balance, as being a part of three zones. The first zone, our comfort zone, is where we feel in balance, calm, present, and joyful. We can sometimes call this being ‘In the Zone’. The second is the stretch, or learning, zone. This is where we are out of our comfort zone, trying new things, putting ourselves out into the world. This can bring on feelings of excitement and anxiety. The third zone is the burnout, or exhaustion, zone. Feelings or depression, anger, and frustration often live here. Being is this zone for short periods of time can be powerful and transforming. After a life or death situation, one may find they have rediscovered their purpose, and set themselves on a different life course. This is a positive outcome stemming from adverse conditions.
Although the danger zone can teach us many life lessons, living beings are not meant to live there for long periods of time. It’s like sprinting the 100 meter dash for 100 miles. It might be do-able, but there are consequences which are taken in by the body and mind. Our biochemistry changes, and overloads the body with stress hormones, which can translate to disease over time. So, how does one avoid falling into this trap?
I like the analogy of a tightrope. One is balanced, poised, joyful as they walk in balance (zone 1). Something may come along which is challenging. Reaching out for it we may wobble on the tightrope, causing excitement and anxiety, as well as offering new learning (zone 2). If one continues to reach, ignoring the wobbling and uneasiness, one may tumble (zone 3).
The goal is not to stay calm and balanced on the tightrope for eternity. If this was the case life would become boring and mundane. The goal is to catch oneself more quickly each time wobbling or tumbling occurs. Using mindfulness techniques, as well as reflecting, one may find they are able to catch themselves more and more quickly each time a dive is taken. Refining their balancing skills.
Following are signs, symptoms to reflect upon, discovering if one has wobbled or totally tumbled off the tightrope we call life.
Signs and Symptoms of Imbalance
- This could be food, sex, television, exercise, drugs, alcohol, or sleep
- Lack luster attitude
- Emotions stemming from unmet needs
- In the form of anger, sadness, and frustration (or a mix of all three)
What You Can Do About It!
Too much work
Take email off your phone
Set limits for your time at work
Make your time at work count- don’t get sidelined by co-workers that gab on for hours. Your time is precious. Let them know that you have some things you need to get done before X time. Ask if you all could catch up later.
Be okay with imperfection. We can always do it better, but at what cost?
Too little work
Lost a job or going on sabbatical? You may find yourself rummaging around in your kitchen looking for the cereal box at noon thinking, ‘Am I living up to my full potential?’
Create a schedule.
Find time each day to go out in public, take a class, go to coffee, go on a hike, to grocery store, anything to connect with others.
Look the the local paper for a list of events – book talks, concerts, movies, or group meditations
Donate your time in the form of service. Volunteering at a local library, school, shelter (women and children, homeless, boys, or animal).
What one does for themselves, they will do for others. Let us create balance in our own lives, then the world.
Thank you for reading