Finding Balance

Tools for Reclaiming Your Life

By Shirley Vanderbilt

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Fall 2002.

Too much on your plate? Millions of Americans know how you feel.

Stress has become a “given” in our modern world, and a primary cause of physical and mental illness for millions of us. Small amounts of stress can be a good thing, keeping us alert and on-task. But unrelenting stress, whether from overbooked schedules, financial strain, too little sleep or too much bad news, can lead to a breakdown of body, mind and spirit. When an overextended life puts you on a collision course with disaster, there are simple steps you can take to recover a sense of balance.

• Slow down and simplify: Honor your true self by choosing, when you can, only those things and events which nourish your health and well-being. This includes the people you spend time with, the environment in which you live and work, and the material things you own. You will then have more energy and resources to deal with externally imposed stress.

• Take care of your body: Many Americans are suffering from sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and over-indulgence of sweets, nicotine and alcohol, all of which add stress to the body. Simply by eliminating bad habits and developing good ones, you can decrease stress and build up your energy supply.

• Feed your soul: Having a firm spiritual connection to a higher power has been shown in research to positively influence the outcome of stress. Find your connection, your center of being, and maintain that connection through ritual, religious practice, meditation or creative expression.

• Use your mind: The new field of transformational psychology has shown us we are what we think. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, allowing for mistakes, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and living a life of gratitude and forgiveness are all instant de-stressors.