So far I’ve talked about Diet and Nutrition, Digestive Health, Body Movement and Sleep as important foundations for health! Lastly, I would like to further the discussion of BALANCE in terms of overall well-being.
We often speak of having a balanced diet in terms of physical health, or having a good work-life balance when it comes to mental health. Even with infections, we must consider balance of the good and the bad bacteria and microorganisms, and a balanced immune response by the host to the offending agent. People with certain conditions must have strict behaviours such as people with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity following a gluten free diet, or a person with diabetes following a diet that stabilizes blood sugars. These behaviours should be strict or the outcome of their health will likely be poor. This too comes down to balance – weighing the pros and cons of a strict health practice while understanding of health outcomes (physical, mental/emotional, social, etc). Sometimes health practices can be detrimental. Certain dietary restrictions may lead to undernutrition/eating, social restrictions, and can develop into other concerns such as mental health outcomes. This is why it is important to work with someone you trust who can look at your overall health and well-being from a different perspective and provide guidance on finding balance.
I would like to further address balance with respect to mental/emotional well-being. Keeping your emotional well-being balanced is no easy task. Feelings can be hard to figure out and they might appear to be out of your control. Being able to manage your emotions and have healthy relationships with others is vital to your overall well-being. People with a balanced mental/emotional health are able to cope with life’s challenges, can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. Here are five tips to keep in mind to help you achieve emotional balance in your daily life.
1. Mindfulness – being aware of thoughts and feelings
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what causes negative emotions to come up, but taking time to reflect on certain thoughts or environmental triggers that cause these negative emotions will allow you to understand and manage your emotional health better. Counselling, talk therapy and guided meditation can help people explore this in a more structured way. Other mindfulness practices such as solo meditation, journaling or even spending time alone, can also be very helpful to help you build an awareness of thoughts and feelings. I often recommend working with a practitioner who can help guide this work as we inherently have our own judgements and bias that can come up as a mental-emotional block – sometimes we need that push/nudge! This is why asking for help is very important.
2. Ask for help
There is no gain from burying emotions. It doesn’t make you stoic or strong to keep the emotional turmoil all to yourself. Talking to someone about it can help you balance these emotions so that you have a healthier response to triggers, ultimately becoming more resilient. Talking to a friend, family member, or confidant can help immensely, but that may not be enough and finding a mental health professional may be greatly beneficial.
3. Positive mindset
While we all get in a bad mood once in a while. Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time, but rather that you are aware of your emotions and can deal with them. On the contrary, constantly maintaining a negative attitude will only eat away at your internal happiness. If this mindset is kept long enough, you will lose sight of the good/positive in things – “neurons that fire together, wire together” as you are strengthening the connections in the brain for negative emotional pathway. Noticing how often you think or say negative things is the first step to have a positive attitude. Once you become aware of this, you need to actively work to change this. Actively focus on the good things in your life. Again this may be an area where you need the support of another individual.
Establishing boundaries with people in your life will contribute to your mental well-being. While it’s best to be nice to others, there will be times when they cross the line and it’s up to you to tell them that was too much. Advocating for yourself and your emotional needs can be one of the hardest things to work on as it pushes comfort zones, but it will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by others. Additionally, surrounding yourself with people who have a healthy, positive outlook who lift you up will have an impact on your emotional well-being.
Sometimes the expectations you set for yourself are more than the expectations others have for you. It’s ok to give yourself a break and let the self-judgement and self-doubt go. Being human, means accepting that we have our imperfections. Self-acceptance is not an automatic or default state of mind, it is learned (as our many aspects of human nature). You won’t ever feel at ease with yourself if you are constantly talking negatively about yourself. Put simply, self-acceptance is the antidote to fear, especially the fear of being seen as unworthy and then experiencing shame, rejection, and exclusion. Self-acceptance can free the mind from feelings of inadequacy and the self-blaming thoughts that lie at heart in many mental health conditions. Just like with negative thoughts in general, becoming aware and then learning how to manage negative self talk is key to learning how to accept yourself.
At the end of the day, no one is perfect. To be perfectly human is to accept human imperfections.
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” ― Brené Brown
Books: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, Let That Sh*t Go by Nina Purewal and Kate Petriw, The Subtle Art of Not Give a F*ck by Mark Manson, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale