Originally Posted March 15, 2011
Back in 2011, the world was in a different form of crisis. The Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear reactor meltdown dominated news headlines. The long-term effects were uncertain, and many of us struggled with how to respond. Bonnie Bell, our late beloved co-founder and Director of Career & Life Coaching, wrote a beautiful article on balance in times of stress and uncertainty. Even though this sentiment was crafted under a different set of circumstances, her words ring true once again.
How to manage all the stress we are under most of the time is a serious problem for our time. Have you noticed how often people talk about wanting balance in their lives? It seems to be more of a complaint and a cry for help than a comment that leads to a pithy conversation about how to proceed. “Stop the World, I want to Get Off,” once a popular Broadway musical, seems an apt title for the current state of the world.
Since that’s not going to happen, let us stop the world and get off for a just a few moments to see what we can do ourselves, right now, about stress. No more bellyaching about balance. How about implementing just a few of the things you’ve already heard would be good for you, and see if they work. Just bungle forth, right where you are.
- For starters, the old adage, “Take a deep breath,” is not an adage for nothin’. Biofeedback demonstrates time and again that taking a deep breath and then exhaling deeply – or three or four or five times in a row – actually reduces blood pressure. The Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, California, recommends taking five deep breaths – five times a day.
- Center. You don’t have to be spiritual to do this. Centering is basically remembering who you are. That just means sitting down at some point during the day, closing your eyes, and thinking about who you are, what you care about, and why you’re doing what you’re doing. This can be brief. If you have a mustard-seed of faith of any kind, throw up a prayer, like, ”Be with me throughout the day. Thank you.”
- Develop gratitude. Books on the scientific research about happiness are proliferating. One is the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner; another is Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. Both are full of research, tools, and case studies that will help you foster happiness in your own life. Both books talk about how important it is to foster an attitude of gratitude. You’ve heard this before (Oprah?); try it.
- Quit things and people who bring you down.
- Add people and things who lift you up.
Try implementing these five things before you say – even one more time – “I need more balance in my life!”