We have all heard that we should strive for balance in our life. Balance requires adequate sleep, food, movement, play, and acts of self-care. Most of us are lucky if we get 3 of those in one day. Lack of daily balance interferes with thinking, makes ideal weight almost impossible, and leads to anxiety, depression, and frustration. Most importantly, it decreases chances to succeed. Burnout was very recently made an official medical diagnosis, and it’s caused by a lack of daily balance. It is a proven result with medical consequences from living an out of balanced life.
My cat, Bumbles, proves that balance works every day. Bumbles was born in my home, so I’ve really seen him put this into action, which has given me far greater appreciation for the balance in my life that I strive for.
1. Breakfast is first. This is Bumbles’ highest priority until it’s done. He tickles my face with his whiskers if I try to sleep later with the intent of skipping it. Eating a healthy breakfast prepares me for my day, prevents that afternoon slump, and tends to make my portion sizes smaller during all my daily meals and snacks.
2. Meditation is Bumbles’ favorite in the morning, and a powerful form of self-care. As soon as he hears me pulling out the headphones to listen to Deepak, Bumbles is in position. He can So Hum it with the best of them. His present moment awareness has been achieved. Taking the time to calm my mind, become aware of the present moment, and allowing my brain to take a break from overthinking is a centering force that follows me through the day. When I’m working throughout the day, the only moment that matters is this one. It’s proven to be the best way to get things done quickly and easily. If I’m thinking about what’s next, I’m not paying attention to what I’m supposed to be focusing on now.
3. Then it’s time for work. He reigns over his kingdom, making sure nothing has changed overnight, and is sure to bap a few of his friends over the head along the way. He is also an aeronautical enthusiast that watches every bird that flies anywhere near the house with absolute fascination. I start work each day with enthusiasm and expectation and allow items to flow naturally without a sense of intense pressure or overwhelm.
4. He breaks for lunch and a short nap. There are numerous studies that show taking a short 20 to 30-minute nap in the middle of the day if you are tired can be extremely beneficial. In our work-obsessed world, we often judge ourselves as being lazy or not doing what we are supposed to be doing if we allow ourselves to rest, but appropriate rest is essential to normal body function. Even taking a short walk outside can be the slight break that makes the rest of the day much more beneficial.
5. Exercise… Bumbles loves to play fetch with super balls. He does about 3-5 high intensity chase and retrieves drills. He then does rope climbs, ramp runs, and several roll over on his back maneuvers. This is followed by a healthy dinner. Exercise does not have to be done in a gym. It’s convenient if that is the location you prefer, but exercise can be done in your living room, hotel room, in the back yard, through your neighborhood. Exercise can be done anywhere. If you need ideas, I am here to provide them.
6. Just chilling… Bumbles watches tv. He has a couch right next to it, and he especially likes it when Ellen dances. He limits it to about an hour though, because its treat time. We all need downtime, where we have left the cares of the day behind to be begun again tomorrow. It can be sitting and watching a beautiful sunset or meeting with friends. Having quiet time and play time during our day is essential for mental well-being.
7. Bumbles finishes his busy day spending time with friends, little man face scratches, and cuddling time with me. A normal bedtime routine reduces insomnia, promotes better quality sleep, and sets you up for a great morning. It’s best to strive to go to bed at the same time every night to even further the benefits of regular sleep.
And then it’s on to tomorrow.
Bumbles is happy, calm, at a normal weight, healthy, and just really happy to be King Bumbles. He’s achieved success at work, at meals, at present moment awareness, at play, at relaxation, and most definitely at rest. We could all learn a bit from Bumbles. I, as his human, have achieved the same results by following his plan. If your life is currently out of balance, and it’s impacting your life, weight, or health, then try starting with just one of the missing components. Ease it into your life in an enjoyable way until it becomes routine, and then move on to the next. Lack of balance didn’t happen overnight. Burnout and lack of balance are usually due to a lifetime of small habits adding up. Give yourself the time to regain balance. My recommendation…. just start with awareness.
Reprinted with permission from Heather Clawson, MD.
Dr. Heather Clawson is a nonclinical physician with a strong background in fitness, both before and after her medical training. She has the unique ability to take medical issues, convert them into fitness terms, and then deliver that information in an easy to understand way for the person in front of her. She’s been involved in fitness for almost her entire life, and she has extensive ICU experience, but she has chosen to use her medical knowledge on the other side of medicine — before a person becomes a chart, labs, and a room number. Visit her blog, heatherclawsonmdblog.com