Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finding Balance

After my first semester in a new job and a new doctoral program, and as a wife and mother of a 3-year-old, I knew I needed to focus on self-care. One of the courses for my doctoral program was on human rights and the work was not only traumatic, but also heavy, with 32 books and articles or chapters to read and 30 videos to watch. Plus there was another course to keep up with.

My plans for self-care sort of flew out the window when things got stressful at work and at home, so this summer, I’m trying to work on establishing some routines that I can maintain throughout next year. I worked out a good routine (on paper) but summer’s irregular schedule and special events have prevented “perfect” execution of my plans.

Since I’m also combating perfectionism, this is good practice. I think most of us think of balance as keeping all the plates spinning at the same speed. But then one plate starts to wobble and takes more of our attention, then another plate falls, and they all start crashing down. This is like the all-or-nothing thinking of perfectionism.

I once listened to a podcast (I can’t remember which, so I can’t give proper credit) that suggested listeners stand up on one leg and then close their eyes. When I did this, I noticed the tiny adjustments, and sometimes big adjustments, needed to keep my balance. I think finding balance in life is more like this: being able to make tiny adjustments, and sometimes big adjustments, or falling down and then getting back up again.

When life gets stressful, and even if I lose my routines completely, it doesn’t mean they don’t work and I have to start all over. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure that will never get it right. I can just get back up and find my balance again, making adjustments as needed.

So this month, I’m going to practice my self-care strategies again, adjusting for changing schedules and special events. When something happens to knock me off my routines, I can just start them again the next day, or hour, or minute.

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