By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.
Regain Your Balance When Life Throws You A Curve
When exploring ways to relieve stress, we often talk about maintaining balance. We want to create a lifestyle that is in sync with our values, a schedule that includes health-promoting habits, and a perspective that helps us roll with the punches in life. All of these things are part of stress management, and can significantly reduce the level of stress we feel in our day-to-day lives. There are times, however, that we face stressors that throw us off-balance, regardless of our preparatory stress relief plans.
This is because life cannot always be planned, and “balance” is not static. The schedule, attitude, or general lifestyle you regularly maintain may be thrown off by a major illness or injury, a lost job, or an important relationship gone south. Here is when the need for centeredness comes in—we need to regroup and make adjustments so we can create a new balance that works. Most of us know this, but we may still be surprised by the level of adjustment that is sometimes required, or we may blame ourselves for the difficulties we find along the way, as though balance should come easily and immediately. When hold ourselves to unrealistic standards of coping ease, we infuse more stress into an already-stressful situation.
Even life’s minor challenges can create the need for adjustments. We make these adjustments every time we take on a new activity, cope with conflicts in our relationships, or even get a poor night of sleep. Getting centered can require minor or major adjustments, but when we don’t manage these stressors we face, it’s harder to stay in balance.
That is why it is also important to know how to regain a feeling of centeredness. Sometimes in life, we may get knocked down by unexpected or particularly toxic stressors. Whether or not we stay down, however, is a choice. When we are operating from a place of feeling overwhelmed—when our stress response is triggered and we are reacting rather than responding—we can create a downward spiral of additional stressors to contend with. Finding techniques that work to reverse our stress response and help us to cope emotionally can help us to move to a better place. The following techniques can help you to gain a feeling of being emotionally centered, whether you face a large or small challenge, so you can move forward and regain balance after any setback.
Even three minutes of meditation can make a difference in your stress levels, and help you to return to a more centered place. Regular meditation can help you to stay more resilient toward stress , so that you are less reactive to the new stressors you face. Learn different meditation techniques and see which feel the most effective for you, and use them when you need to de-stress and return to a place of balance.
Letting your feelings out on paper—the practice of journaling—can help you to process them and let them go. This is among many benefits that journaling can bring . You may want to practice journaling about your feelings , move to brainstorming solutions, and even write about feelings of gratitude you have about what is going right in your life. Each of these practices can help you to feel more balanced and centered.
Talk To A Friend
If you have a close, trustworthy, and supportive friend, talking about your feelings and brainstorming solutions to your problems can be even more effective than journaling. This is because you can reap the benefits of social support, gain new perspectives, and perhaps have someone help you take your mind off of what is stressing you. If your problems leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, talking with a therapist can be quite helpful as well.