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There are two weeks left of the school year, and I can feel the stress levels of my college students rising. You can cut the tension of stress with a knife and see the strain of last minute papers and group projects in their eyes. In being surrounded in this stress, I’ve come to think about balance and what it means to be balanced in times of high stress.
Life can get busy. The first things that get cut in our lives are typically the things that keep us healthy and balanced. Whether it’s working out, eating right, sleeping, or spending time alone with God, typically those things that we need to function get cut first in the name of deadlines, responsibilities, and stress. We often think that we have to sacrifice the things we love to fill it with this idea for the need to produce in all areas of our lives.
It is important to list out the things that you need to keep you balanced and healthy, so that you know to prioritize those with all of the other demands in your life. If you don’t, the stress in your life begins to snowball because you never quite feel that you are moving forward in taking care of yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself, then it’s really hard to take care of or invest in others. Or as a friend told me once, “If you take care of your body, it will take care of you.”
Ask yourself the question, “If you had 5 hours magically added to your day that wasn’t spent doing work related things, how would you spend it?” How you would spend that time may reveal what you need to bring back into your life to feel more balanced. Is it time to read scripture, pray or mediate? Is it going to coffee with a friend to catch up on life? Would it be to dust off the running shoes and go for a walk or run? Would it be to spend time reading that book that you’ve been meaning to finish? Or would it be to spend quality time with your significant other?
I will be the first to say that I have some long, busy days, but I know that if I don’t invest in myself holistically (spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally) then I just feel stressed and unbalanced. I begin to feel exhausted, burned out, and fall apart at the seams. Also I can’t be very productive if I’m sick, tired, or stressed out all of the time. In order to alleviate this about a year ago I started to be intentional with my balance by asking myself every day, “What have I done for myself to take care of myself spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally?” I begin to find ways to take ‘timeouts’ in my day to focus on these areas even if it was for only 5 minutes. I found myself ending a day feeling like I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish instead of feeling that I was working all day, pouring myself out, and never feeling re-energized.
I think sometimes we convince ourselves that we don’t have control over our commitments and schedules that they are just given to us and we have to deal with them. It’s time to realize that we are in control of our balance by correctly prioritizing the things we need to stay healthy. Take some ‘timeouts’ today and bring that love to yourself by bringing balance and healthy behaviors back into your life!
What have you done today to take care of yourself? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually? Mentally?
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26