Obtaining Life Balance : Where Do I Start?
by Dr. Krysten DeSouza, ND
Collaborative Healthcare Network
5–3405 South Millway, Mississauga, ON
We all have that one person in our lives who appears to have everything together.
The person who seems to be able to do it all, enjoy it all, and always looks positively
refreshed at the end of it all. Things come together with seamless effort, and as you
stand in this person’s presence with your hair in disarray, gasping for breath and in utter
panic mode because you can’t find your keys, you wonder: How do they do it?,
Well, finding balance in your life is a very individual thing and can look completely different
for everyone. It involves a lot of introspection, honesty, and patience with oneself, while
changes are made into habits. They say it takes 21 days to break an old habit and 21
days to make a new habit. That means within three weeks you could be heading in one
of two very different directions, depending on what you choose.
How Does One Achieve Balance?
This is the part where introspection and honesty come into play. Take some time right
now to read through the first few steps and think about your answers.
So why choose balance?
- Roles: Make a list of all the words that can be used to describe you, all the different
roles you have to play in your life (e.g. sister, mother, friend, athlete, chef, etc.)
- Prioritize: Order things from most to least important, taking into account the things
you have to do as well as the things you want to do for yourself.
- Manage your time: This is by far the most important step, and can make or break
your routine if not done properly. Set your goals for the day, and don’t push yourself
to accomplish things beyond this plan. Adding too much to your plate will make your
day hectic, causing you to work less efficiently and burnout sooner. Planning the right
number of things per day will leave you feeling accomplished and productive.
- Delegate: Do whatever you need to do to meet your deadlines, and things that don’t
need to be done by you can be done by someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
if you need it. Most of the time, the people around you are not even aware that you are
drowning in responsibilities and would be completely okay with helping out if they knew
exactly how you needed help. So be specific when you delegate a task, and remember
- Plan ahead: Set things up today to make tomorrow easier. Prepare lunches and
snacks, get your gym bag ready, set out your clothes for the next day, etc. A little bit of
time spent today saves a lot of time running around tomorrow.
- Be patient with yourself: 90% of any experience is your perception of the experience.
Every day will throw different challenges at you, and it’s important to be flexible with
your schedule to avoid feeling discouraged. If you are getting frustrated with yourself for
not working faster or being more focused, your whole day will take on that same vibe.
Take everything one day at a time, and don’t forget to take deep breaths when you feel
Of course, we’d all like a reminder that our heads are still attached to our bodies every
once in a while. That feeling of constant cloudiness, brain fog, and confusion can leave
you disconnected from the world and struggling to make it through the day. But balance
doesn’t just begin with getting your head on straight and clearing your mental fogginess.
As a holistic health-care professional, it is impossible to see the body as anything but
the whole, and this means that finding true balance begins on the inside.
Other Things to Remember!
Maintain Your Support Network
We are all familiar with the phrase “You are what you eat.” But really, we should consider
that we are only as good as the bacteria living within us. And because 75% of our
immune system lives within our gut, we are really only capable of withstanding that
which our bacteria can withstand. Thus, the balance of good and bad begins with the
bacteria in our bodies.
Once our bacteria and gut health are in order, we can feel more confident that the
nutrients we eat can be properly digested and absorbed by our bodies. Our next
challenge is the balance of proteins, carbs, fats, and micronutrients within our diet.
Food is our fuel (and our medicine!), and the balance of our nutrients will be different
depending on our health and fitness goals.
Depending on our age and gender, our bodies can be made of anywhere from 50
to 75% of water. Without even feeling thirsty, our need for water on the cellular level
remains the same. When dehydrated, body processes start to slow down and function
inefficiently. Fluid balance is a key component of athletic performance, and can be very
dangerous if overlooked.
Depending on your health goals and personal interests, your exercise regime will vary.
For those who struggle with exercise, finding balance could just be about equating
gym days versus nongym days in a week. For those who exercise regularly, balance is
more about the types of exercise you do and the variety that comes with cardio versus
strength training, or low versus high intensity.
Regular exercise is great. It reduces our risk for all sorts of chronic diseases (heart
disease, diabetes, depression). But one thing to realize is that our bodies adapt to
whatever stresses we put on them. Our bones are constantly remodeling and breaking
down, depositing cells into areas where stronger bone structure is needed. Runners
have strong bones in their legs, but this comes at the expense of weaker bone structure
in their upper bodies. This means that slipping and falling on ice could lead to a fairly
easy fracture in someone with very weak bone structure.
Alternating your workout routines will give your whole body a workout and improve your
If you don’t have access to a gym, exercise could be intentionally taking the stairs or
doing more gardening, housework, yoga, etc. Working out at home could include wall
sits, pushups, planks, sit-ups, squats, and lunges.
Even the most social of butterflies need a night to themselves every once in a while—
and on the flip side, even the introverts can use a night out. Finding balance in your
social life will allow you to get the rest you need, be productive at work, and keep your
friends. If you are finding it difficult to fit exercise and socialization into your day, consider
switching up your hangout from the bar stool to the boardwalk. Your friends and your
bank book will thank you!
In a busy schedule, sleep is often the essential that suffers. On average, we need eight
hours of sleep per night, but this number varies between people. Sleep is important for
helping your body to repair, and allows your immune system to strengthen itself and
prevent you from getting sick. Many smartphone apps are available with timers that can
be set to remind you to get ready for bed or turn off the TV. Once you learn how many
hours of sleep you need to wake refreshed and function properly the next day, you can
try your best to incorporate that into your daily plan.
For all the activities you carry out in a day, everything would seem like less of a chore
if you didn’t have to do it alone. Running in a group is the perfect example of finding
ways to be part of a supportive group while getting in your steps for the day. If cooking
is a chore for you, get your kids involved with making salads, setting the table, washing
dishes, etc. Turn on the music and make it a fun family experience!
Laugh it off. Write your favourite uplifting quote on a business card, and stick it in your
wallet so you always remember to keep cool in stressful situations. Keep your eye on
the bigger picture, and maintain perspective. Surround yourself with people who inspire
and uplift you. Don’t take yourself too seriously and always, always, always maintain
your sense of humour.
Live in the Moment
Focus on what you are doing right now, live in the present, and don’t worry about the
past. Have an idea what’s coming in the future, but only so that it can help steer what
you are doing today in the direction of what you want. Aside from helping you to do
things properly, this drastically reduces the overwhelming burden you feel, and can
significantly reduce stress levels. Last piece of advice for today: Don’t forget to breathe!