coping

Striking the Perfect Balance

Just like any stable and reliable structure, good mental health requires a solid foundation. The keys to a secure foundation are balance and consistency.

We all love a good catch-phrase and “Work-Life Balance” is up there with the best of them. It’s often spoken about, but what does it really mean and how well do any of us truly ‘live’ it?

To simplify matters, we can break most of our tasks in life into four categories:

Achievement Activities:

Anything that we do that is goal focussed and provides us with a sense of accomplishment at its completion. Our ‘have to’ tasks tend to fit into this category as well. E.g. work; household chores; errands; study etc.

Pleasant Activities:

All of the things we do that we enjoy and that make us feel good. This category includes all of our leisure and pleasure activities. For example: reading; watching a movie; travel; having a massage; gardening; drawing, etc.

Social Activities:

Whenever we spend meaningful time connecting with others, we are being social. This can include face-to-face contact, but also telephone, Skype, email, social networking. E.g. coffee with a friend; dinner parties; BBQ; visiting friends or family etc.

Physical Activities:

Any activity that requires us to move our body. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that we ‘move’ at least 30 minutes every day, at least five days per week. It doesn’t even have to be consecutive e.g. you could do ten minutes of physical exercise, three times per day. For example: gym; walking; running; cycling; taking the stairs; swimming etc.

What you’ve probably already noticed is that many things that we do fit into more than one of the above categories. How great is that?!

Walking with a friend on the beach is a physical activity, a pleasant activity AND a social activity. It might even be an achievement.

Gardening can be an achievement, physical and pleasant.

The key is to make sure you are participating in enough activities in ALL of the categories on a regular basis. Many of us are very good at completing ‘Achievement’ type tasks but we struggle to find time to fit in exercise or time to catch up with our friends as often as we’d like. I’ve noticed that many of us don’t even remember what we love to do.

When an imbalance occurs and we’re doing too much of one thing and not enough of others, we increase our risk of stress. If that continues for a long enough period of time, the risk of developing other mental health issues increases.

I challenge you to think about your own life balance. It’s not rocket science. If you are feeling tired or stressed, low or anxious, it’s time to make some changes.

If we are not feeling our best, we need to do more of the things that make us feel better.

Are you doing enough of the things that make you feel good?

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