Taking the First (or three) step/s towards Balance
With the mountain of information available at our fingertips and the fractions of a second that it takes to find, the quest for how to work towards balance can be incredibly daunting. There are so many opinions from therapists, gurus, coaches, best friends, Aunts, to third cousins twice removed who once read a book by a guy. Often we end up feeling paralyzed with just the number of choices of who to listen to.
One common thread amongst almost all sources is that there is a symbiotic relationship between our physical health and our mental health. Even though it can feel like our minds are separate from our bodies, each one needs the other in our continuous journey to maintain balance. In this blog post, I’m going to lay out 3 different strategies that you can use to help work towards balance in your life.
Step #1- Write Down the Messages that Help You Cope
Everyone we know in our lives is an expert on something. Our daily conversations are filled with amazing nuggets of wisdom that in the moment bring about a sense of peace or clarity. Sometimes these key phrases or words might be a quote from a spiritual text or from a movie or a book. Being aware of how these quotes impact your feelings is important. Often, these quotes can help to bring about a mind space to help with being productive or managing stress. Writing down these mantras, quotes, or affirmations in a place where you can visually see them can help to boost your motivation or to help manage momentary stress.
These are some of the messages that I use at my desk.
Step #2 – Quick Changes for more Restful Sleep
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep chances are your body temperature might be rising too high during sleep. In order to fall asleep, our body temperatures need to be able to fall 1-2 degrees and to stay that way during our sleep cycles. The great news is that you don’t necessarily have to sleep with a fan or with the window open. Restful sleep can help to manage mood throughout the day.
Try these quick changes and see if they help
- Sleep with a blanket that you can kick off during sleep. This will help to regulate temperature during sleep cycles.
- Untuck your blankets from the bottom of the mattress. The body’s temperature gauges are on the top of the head, the bottoms of the feet and the palms of the hands. Having one of these body parts out from under a blanket can help keep you cool during sleep.
- Try a warm to hot shower 30ish minutes before sleep. It might sound backwards, but hot showers actually start your body’s cooling down process.
Step #3 – Light, Light, Light
The power and impact of sunlight on both our physical and mental wellbeing is often overlooked, especially during the colder seasons when the sun goes down earlier. Similar to our body’s ability to regulate temperature, we have some automatic processes that sunlight helps to kick start. Viewing unobstructed sunlight or very bright light within one to two hours of waking up can help to reset our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our body’s internal clock that slowly ticks down over the course of the day. It helps to start the body’s internal process for sleep. By viewing sunlight or very bright light within two hours of waking up, it resets the timer for our body to produce neurotransmitters and hormones that help with sleep. Ideally, view sunlight for at least 10 minutes on bright sunny days, and about 30 minutes on overcast days. While sunlight is the most efficient and cost effective way to do this, it can be challenging to do this living in an apartment in a major city. One important detail is to view the sunlight unobstructed by a window or sunglasses. If there is a particularly sunny side of your apartment, the best thing to do would be to open the window and get the sunlight unfiltered by the glass of the window. If for other reasons, like overnight work shifts, you can’t get the unobstructed sunlight you can substitute the sunlight for another electronic light, like a ring light. The CDC recommends at least 10,000 lumens of light within 1-2 hours of waking to help with feeling more alert while waking up, and to help fall asleep later in the day. There are many free light meters available in iOS and Android app stores. One popular app is the Lux Light Meter app, linked here.
Balance is a continued journey and path, not a destination. If you’re finding yourself struggling with creating balance in your life, working with a mental health professional may benefit you. In addition to work towards large scale changes, I also can support with making smaller scale adjustments to help with building the foundation for some of the larger work. I am currently taking clients. Find out more about working with me!