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Balancing life

Introduction

How are you feeling?

Good most days? Tired? Run down? Lots of energy?


No matter how you feel, this post is for you. It's all about balance in our lives whether we have it now and want to keep it, or we want it, maybe even need it.


I'm there with you if you need it. Life can get challenging. With some recent obstacles in my life, I was reflecting on what I could do to feel good again and realized this is what some of you may be seeking as well.


HOW DO WE GET BALANCE IN OUR LIVES?


Change something. What can you change, you ask? Read on.


Bringing balance into our lives involves taking a holistic approach that considers the entirety of a person. The focus is on personal well-being and balance within one's own life. We can only fix ourselves.


Change one thing at a time.

For those who are visual people, I'm going to use the analogy of how a teeter-totter or seesaw works to understand the concept of balance. A teeter-totter consists of a long plank or board that pivots from a central point. With equal weight on both ends of the teeter-totter, it remains level.

Balanced.


However, if one side of the teeter-totter becomes heavier than the other side, the heavier side will descend while the lighter side rises. By adjusting the weight distribution on each end of the teeter-totter, individuals can control the movement and achieve a balanced position where both sides are at the same height. Balanced.


In this analogy of the seesaw, the weight symbolizes our holistic health rather than just our physical weight as measured on a scale. It serves as a metaphor for attaining equilibrium across various aspects of our well-being, including spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical dimensions. Just as the seesaw requires balanced weights on both sides to function smoothly, our overall health thrives when all these aspects are considered equally. In other words, this analogy underscores the interconnectedness of different facets of health and the importance of striving for a well-rounded approach to well-being.


It is crucial to emphasize that the focus of this discussion revolves around our personal journey toward achieving balance in our lives. This journey is about our own efforts and choices rather than relying on our family or community to bring balance for us. They are essential in shaping who we are, but only we, as individuals, can shape our interactions and responses. Another critical factor here is recognizing we cannot control every aspect of our environment or the actions of others.


It is also important to remember that everyone's journey towards balance and fulfillment is unique. We often only see a curated version of someone's life, especially in the age of social media, where people tend to showcase their happiest moments. However, behind closed doors, each person has challenges, dreams, and aspirations that they may not always share with the world. This realization can be a powerful reminder to be kind and compassionate towards others, as we never truly know what someone is going through. By nurturing our well-being and striving for personal growth in all our lives, we can cultivate a more authentic sense of happiness and fulfillment beyond external appearances.


This blog is organized into the following sections as we learn more about a holistic approach and balance:

• Analysis of the four key elements of a holistic model or aspects of wellness.

• A brief investigation into the different viewpoints and models.

• Explore the beginnings of the holistic model.

• Complete a self-assessment to identify potential areas of imbalance.

• Discover methods of achieving balance.



The Four Overall Aspects of Wellness

Numerous perspectives exist on the elements that constitute a holistic approach to wellness. Some suggest incorporating occupational, financial, and social health, while others propose integrating socio-emotional well-being. These are only a few examples.


Since these elements are meaningful to some people, we will explore them in the next section of this post. For now, I will outline why focusing on four key elements or aspects is crucial for a holistic approach.


You might be wondering why you should continue reading and take my advice. I don't pretend to be an expert; however, my knowledge is based on my educational and life experiences and the wisdom passed down from Elders and Knowledge Holders. Elders and Knowledge Holders or Knowledge Keepers, a term you may be more familiar with, are held in the highest regard in many Indigenous communities. They provide teachings and insights into aspects of life. I give thanks for the understanding I have gained. I also want to ensure everyone that I am not providing teachings.


The medicine wheel represents the four aspects of wellness, a powerful symbol many Indigenous cultures use to represent the interconnectedness of all aspects of life. If you're curious about delving deeper into the medicine wheel, keep an eye out for an upcoming post in which we'll explore it further.


Not all Indigenous communities follow the Medicine Wheel. For instance, the Inuit model is called Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). The Haudenosaunee model is called the Good Mind. There are many others.



Whichever model we look at, interconnectedness is a fundamental aspect. It emphasizes the intricate link between various elements of our lives, and we can strive towards balance.


As mentioned, the Medicine Wheel consists of four quadrants. Many teachings stem from this circular symbol. I share spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being information rather than teachings.


The Medicine Wheel fits perfectly with our seesaw metaphor. Splitting the number four in half, we end up with two and two. Visualizing the seesaw, there would be two on one side and two on the other. It stays level when two elements are on each side, creating balance. But what does this actually mean in terms of our holistic wellness?


The balanced Medicine Wheel in the centre of the seesaw.
The Medicine Wheel Balanced on Seesaw

Here is a look at each of the four aspects of wellness.


Spiritual Well-Being

Spiritual well-being is about finding purpose and meaning in life. It's important to note that spirituality is a personal journey and can mean different things to different people. It often involves reflecting on our values and connecting with something greater than ourselves. Spirituality doesn't necessarily mean religious practice. The teachings I received from Knowledge Keeper Ray John Junior taught me that everything begins with spirit.


Emotional Well-Being

Emotional well-being is the ability to understand and manage our emotions. It involves self-awareness, resilience, and coping with life's ups and downs. Although they are interconnected, emotional well-being does not include mental well-being. Emotional well-being comes more from the heart. Have you ever heard the saying, 'Get out of your head?' Some of us overthink. With emotional well-being, we tap into our hearts instead of our heads.


Mental Well-Being

Mental well-being includes cognitive health, thinking clearly, and making decisions. It involves engaging in activities that challenge our brain, such as reading, learning new skills, or solving puzzles, which can enhance mental clarity and understanding. Mental well-being involves keeping our minds sharp, engaged, and balanced. Today, there is a significant focus on mental health and wellness. Depression and anxiety seem to align with mental illness.


Our minds can deceive us. Some of us overthink things. A common saying is "comparison is the thief of joy." That's common. Media and the government ensure we want the best. But this topic can be an entirely different post. Here, what we need to know is that true success is measured by the peace and contentment we discover within ourselves.


Physical Well-Being

Physical well-being is about caring for our body through proper nutrition, regular exercise and physical activity, safe sex, and adequate rest. Listening to our body and prioritizing activities that promote physical health is essential.



The Interconnections

Each aspect of well-being is interconnected. Yes, this word is used frequently throughout this post. If mental health is suffering, it can impact the other quadrants, such as physical impairments, and vice versa.


Why focus on these four aspects? Trying to address multiple dimensions of wellness simultaneously can be overwhelming and may reduce the effectiveness of efforts to improve each specific aspect. Therefore, placing too much emphasis on numerous wellness dimensions can lead to overwhelming feelings and a decline in overall well-being rather than promoting holistic improvement.


As promised, though, we will look at other components or approaches of holistic models.


 

Other Holistic Approaches

Occupational, financial, and social wellness are common elements included in holistic models. We will briefly examine these three.


Occupational Wellness

Occupational well-being pertains to our experiences in the workplace. It involves job satisfaction, work-life balance, and personal growth. It can be argued that we must have emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness to have occupational wellness. When we are fulfilled, our chances of job satisfaction will be higher, we will have a better work-life balance and we will pursue growth opportunities.


Financial Wellness

Financial stability is crucial to our overall well-being, as it reduces stress and provides security. We can achieve financial well-being by creating a budget, saving for the future, and seeking financial advice when necessary. However, if we have balanced emotional and mental health, then the chances of our financial situation being good increase.



Social Wellness

Social well-being plays a critical role in overall happiness and life satisfaction by fostering a sense of connection and value within communities. It recognizes the quality of our relationships and interactions with others. It is deeply intertwined with emotional well-being, as robust emotional health can enhance our ability to form and maintain fulfilling relationships. This synergy between emotional and social wellness contributes to a supportive community environment where individuals can thrive and feel a sense of belonging and purpose.


There are also holistic approaches, such as acupuncture and homeopathy. These are beneficial to those who are open to those practices.

 

Origins of the Holistic Model

I conducted research for this section as I lacked definitive knowledge about the origins of a holistic model. Without this research, my opinion might have been biased toward considering an Indigenous approach as the original model. Here are the facts I found.

• Edgar Cayce was called the "father of holistic medicine."

• Traditional Chinese Medicine.

• Ayurveda.

• The term "holism" was introduced in 1926 by Jan Christian Smuts.

• Indigenous beliefs.


I surmise today's holistic approaches have adapted elements from all of these ancient practices. What we typically find when going to the doctor, or hospital today can be referred to as Western medicine. It compartmentalizes things.


While a holistic approach or holistic medicine considers the whole person, Western medicine often separates various aspects of health and well-being. For instance, during Welby's significant heart surgery last year, he was treated by different specialized teams. These included the medicine team, the occupational therapy team, the cardiologist and their team, and the cardiovascular surgeon and their team. Each team focused on specific aspects of his care and recovery. For those of you who may be questioning who Welby is, he is my husband.


 

Balancing Life Exercise

Balancing Life Exercise is offered for download but this gives an image of what it looks like so people know what they are downloading.

Complete a self-assessment to Identify Potential Areas of Imbalance


Download the self-assessment.

balance in our lives exercise
.pdf
Download PDF • 95KB







 

Achieving Balance

The traditional approaches we discussed in the last section are intended to be preventative measures, but life's challenges can throw us off track, rolling us down to one end of the seesaw. This section will identify signs of imbalance for each of the four wellness aspects, and provide recommendations for making adjustments to restore balance.


Emotional Wellness

Signs of Emotional Imbalance

Lacking emotional well-being can affect our mental, emotional, and physical health. Here are some key points to consider:

• Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability.

The emotional quadrant is imbalanced on the seesaw.
Emotional Well-being

• Difficulty accurately identifying emotions, recognizing how others feel, or expressing their emotional needs.

• Strained relationships through constant emotional outbursts.

• Defensiveness and having trouble accepting criticism.

• Difficulty learning from mistakes.

• Feelings of pessimism and loss of motivation.

• Inability to bounce back after setbacks.

• Higher than normal stress levels and anxiety.

• May experience immune system disruption.

• Emotional distress can lead to hormonal fluctuations and digestive disorders.

• Chronic stress and emotional strain contribute to high blood pressure.

• Feelings of isolation and loneliness.

• Cognitive decline.

• Reduced empathy.


Improving Emotional Wellness

• Learn all the different emotions aside from the common happy, sad, mad, and angry.

• Try to focus on the positive aspects of life.

• Reach out to friends, family, or professionals such as a therapist or counsellor when needed.

• Practice emotional self-awareness by understanding your emotions and learning healthy coping strategies.

• Prioritize self-care.

• Build strong relationships by building trust and respect.

• Develop empathy, which involves understanding their perspective, acknowledging their feelings, and showing compassion.

• Learn to express emotions. Start by identifying and acknowledging your emotions, which can involve recognizing and labelling your feelings, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or something else.

• Practice practical communication skills to help in expressing emotions clearly and constructively.

• Enjoy listening to music.

• Engage in creative activities.



Spiritual Wellness

Signs of Spiritual Imbalance

Lacking spiritual well-being can profoundly impact various aspects of your life. Here's how it might affect you:

The spiritual quadrant is out of balance on the seesaw.
Spiritual Well-being

• Feeling a void or lack of direction without a sense of higher purpose or meaning.

• Feelings of fatigue, loss of joy, and a lack of motivation.

• physical symptoms such as sleep disturbances or illness.

• Feeling disconnected from others.

• Inability to cope with stress.

• Inability to deal with life challenges.

• Decision-making can be challenging.

• Fear and phobias accelerate.


Improving Spiritual Wellness

• Meditate.

• Connect with nature.

• Learn more about how energy healing works.

• Attend ceremonies.

• Join or revisit a religious affiliation.

• Journal through writing or art.

• Engage in daily personal reflection.

• Practice breathing exercises to calm the mind and regulate the body's response to stress.




Physical Wellness

Signs of Physical Imbalance

Lacking physical well-being can significantly impact various aspects of your life. Here are some effects of a physical imbalance:

the quadrant of physical well-being is unbalanced on the seesaw
Physical Well-being

• Sleep Deprivation impacts our bodies in many ways, including the central nervous, immune, and respiratory systems.

• Lack of physical activity can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.

• Sedentary lifestyles are associated with a higher risk of specific cancers.

• Prolonged physical inactivity raises the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

• Lack of physical activity can lead to higher blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and increased illness.

• Lack of physical activity can impact mood, cognitive function, and overall mental well-being.

• Stress-related effects can include anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, and muscle tension.


Improving Physical Wellness

• Maintain a regular exercise routine. If you are just starting, consider walking for 15 minutes three times a day, depending on your activity level.

• Ask the doctor to participate in a sleep apnea test to monitor your sleep patterns when you sleep.

• Consider your spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being and if there are factors impacting your physical wellness.

• Prioritize nutritious foods and a more balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables.

• Avoid skipping meals.

• Avoid processed foods and drinks.

• Drink lots of water for your recommended age group.

• Incorporate regular physical movement into your routine to boost energy and mood.

• Consider supplements, but always consult with a healthcare professional.



Mental Well-being

Signs of Mental Health Imbalance

Lacking mental well-being can significantly impact various aspects of your life. Let's explore some of the effects:

The emotional well-being quadrant unbalanced on the seesaw.
Mental Well-being

• Brain Fog.

• Slowed memory recall.

• Sleep disturbances.

• Mood Changes such as increased irritability, anxiety, and depression.

• Social isolation.

• Work-Related Stress.

• Lower Satisfaction with Life.

• Lack of social and emotional support

leads to lower life satisfaction.

• Bidirectional Relationship: Social isolation and mental health influence each other. Isolation can lead to brain changes that contribute to mental health conditions.

• Decreased Motivation.

• Depression, anxiety, burnout.

• Problems with productivity at home and or at work.

• Increased Stress.



Improving Mental Wellness

• Remember that seeking professional help and maintaining social connections are essential for mental well-being.

• Practice mindfulness to enhance self-awareness and present-moment awareness.

• Cultivate a habit of positive thinking to influence your outlook on life.

• Use affirmations to reinforce positive beliefs and attitudes.

• Learn and apply techniques to manage stress effectively.


 

Conclusion


Achieving holistic well-being means taking care of every facet of one's life—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is about attaining equilibrium and unity within ourselves and our environment. It's an ongoing process of self-exploration and development.


By embracing all dimensions of wellness, we can sharpen our minds, fortify our bodies, and confidently approach each day's challenges. Just as the seesaw requires balanced weights on both sides to function smoothly, our overall health thrives when all these aspects are considered equally. This highlights the interconnectedness of different facets of health and the importance of a well-rounded approach to well-being.


What is one thing you can change right now or work toward?


Please share this information so more people can take preventative wellness measures and avoid hospital visits and illness.


Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments below. We would appreciate constructive thoughts. We all have different teachings, so it would be nice if you shared your experiences and knowledge.


Sources: Betterup.com, ourworldofwellness.com, Verywellmind.com, psychologytoday.com Healthline.com, betterhelp.com, verywellmind.com, psychologytoday.com Webmd.com, spiritualityshepherd.com, ourmindandbodycom, psychologytoday.com, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-ayurveda



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