When working with patients, part of the work usually becomes finding a balance between personal needs, the needs of a family, and the needs of a job. Finding the balance between all things can be very difficult at times. Without balance, mental health issues can fester and become worse. Depression can increase, and anxiety can begin to rule your life. When things are out of balance, adjustment is needed to keep functioning. Thimk of it like spinning plates on spikes. When all the plates spin at the same speed, things work. When some of the plates start to slow down, and need attention, the hope is that the other plates continue to spin while you tend to the plates that are slowing down and getting ready to fall. The problem becomes when too many plates are spinning, and too many start to slow at one time. When all the parts of your life need attention at the same time, it becomes overwhelming and it’s hard to keep up.
For me, the first trick when working on balance is to make sure you don’t have too many plates. My family has been my first priority in the past, but I’m learning that I can handle more when I take care of myself first. When I think about my top three plates, I have to put myself, my family and my job at the top. Caring for myself, helps me care for others. Caring for my family has to be priority because of my responsibility for my kids, but my job is important as well due to my role in helping others, and let’s be honest, it pays the bills. After defining my most important priorities, thinking about other plates comes into play. Some people have second jobs, are caring for other family members, or attending school. Then comes housework, changing the sheets, doing dishes, paying bills, and all the other important pieces of being responsible.
When I work with patients, we talk about their priorities and how to manage them, and find balance. Sometimes the kids need more attention due to illness or school issues. Sometimes other family members needs support and the priority shifts a bit. Other times, things at work become overwhelming. This is what makes finding the balance important. There will always be times when things out of balance, but you have to know what it feels like to get back to center before you can make adjustments. Defining your center helps you evaluate and decide how to get back to feeling better. Lets face it, when things get crazy, the dishes and other chores can wait for a while, so you can focus on another area. As you get caught up, you can review and find the balance again so you can feel better.
I have heard the idea of balance talked about in movies. While You Were Sleeping has a line toward the end where the father talks about that moment when everything is good, when everyone is healthy, and all seems right with the world. That’s the moment that I talk with people about working toward. Those moments might not happen very often, and they don’t last, but it’s good to have them once in a while and acknowledge them. That’s what I mean by finding the balance. Finding that moment, however fleeting, when all is right with the world. Enjoy them when they come. Work to make them happen as often as you can, when all your plates are spinning and you can relax and just watch the splendor. Define what’s important, don’t do too much, and take care of yourself. It’s part of being happy for life.