We talk a lot in the wellness movement about balance, the art of keeping all aspects of your life in proper perspective, not neglecting one area for another. It’s an important concept, and when you’re able to live that way, you tends to feel calmer, more relaxed, and, well, balanced. But life has seasons that may demand us to pay more attention to one aspect than usual, and in those times, balance goes out the window. I feel like I’m in one of those seasons right now. I’ve been hitting the books hard for the last 5 months, trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible while pursuing my certification. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. However, its required me to make some adjustments in how I spend my time. In the past when I’ve gone through seasons of imbalance, I burned the candle at both ends, trying to still keep up with everything I felt I needed to do, not acknowledging that some things were less important. As a result, my body was thrown into adrenal fatigue, and I was forced to slow down. I’m mostly past that, but the lesson was well learned. This time around, I’ve made a list of priorities to get me through this time, and everything else has been placed on hold. While this list looks different for everyone, here’s the things I’ve chosen to focus on to keep myself from doing too much.
1. Time with my family
I’ve made it a rule not to do schoolwork while my husband is home. We work pretty opposite work schedules and have one day off together a week, plus 3 evenings. Other than that, it’s a kiss goodbye in the morning and goodnight in the evenings. I get pretty cranky and frustrated if I don’t get to see him during those times, so I’ve made them sacred. This has prevented a lot of stress in my life and been important in my marriage.
2. Adequate sleep and rest
Sleep has many important functions for our bodies, as I discussed in detail in my previous post. I’ve found that I do best on 8 hours of sleep, so I’ve made that a priority. Burning the midnight oil to get things done just makes me cranky, and any studying I do in that time usually doesn’t stick with me anyway. I’ve also tried to listen to my body and take “power naps” in the afternoons if I’m feeling fatigued. I wake up on my own in 20-30 minutes with a second wind in my sails.
3. Avoiding stimulants
Because I’m still recovering from adrenal fatigue, I avoid caffeine and stimulants. These are hard on the adrenals because they stimulate them to produce more cortisol. For those of you with healthy adrenals, a cup or two a day may not be a problem. Caffeine tolerance is very individual, depending on your biochemistry and the season of your life. For me, this just isn’t a good idea right now.
4. Changing my expectations
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been Martha Stewart when it comes to housekeeping. I’ve made it a priority to keep up with the household chores I find most important, like laundry, keeping a (mostly) tidy kitchen, vacuuming up the never ending dog hair, and quick bathroom cleaning. I honestly don’t remember the last time I dusted anything (gasp!), and the carpet cleaner hasn’t seen the outside of the closet in months. I’m hoping to be able to have a thorough spring cleaning weekend sometime in the next couple months, for but for now, maintenance cleaning is all that’s happening at my house.
5. Proper nutrition
If I eat poor quality food from the local fast food joint, I definitely pay a price for it. I feel tired, sluggish, and just plain blah. I’ve tried to keep up with as many home cooked meals as I can, and when I do pick up something, I don’t stress about it, but I do try and make sure its got some nutritional value. Home cooked meals don’t have to be time consuming. Chili made with grass fed beef is quick, easy, and satisfying. The slow cooker is a great way to cook flank steak for quick fajitas, and a big batch of soup will keep you going for a while.
Thankfully for me, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m getting closer to the externship part of my certification, which I’m very excited about. I’m looking forward to getting back to a more normal rhythm in my life. However, I think I’ve weathered this season of imbalance a lot better than I would have previously due to my small list of priorities. Best of luck to you in all seasons of your life!