The world can often seem like a crazy place. So much happens that is outside our control that it can be hard to keep things orderly. By keeping your life balanced internally and externally, you can make that life a little more orderly.
What is balance?
Balance is when any two conditions are equal. If two people of equal weight are on a teeter totter, the teeter totter is balanced and both people stay in the air. But balance isn’t just about weight. Balance is also visible in our emotions, physique, diet, and surroundings.
Why is balance important?
Balance is important for many reasons. Maintaining balance in your life is vital to living a happy life. It protects you from the turbulence of life events outside your control. Keeping a healthy balance in your life can improve your mental health.
All emotions in life have value. Too often, people categorize emotions like fear or anger as “negative,” but those emotions have their place. Fear keeps you safe by keeping you away from dangerous situations and people. Anger drives you to act when someone hurts or threatens you.
You can have too much of any emotion. Too much anger can encourage you to hurt the people you love. Too much fear can prevent you from taking risks which might lead to a positive experience. You can even have too much of the “positive” emotions like joy or love. If you are too happy, you might become blind to warning signs in your environment. Too much love can make you obsessed with a person or hobby to the detriment of other parts of your life. So what do you do when your emotions are out of balance?
An Emotional Balance Technique
You can control your emotions by controlling your reaction to your emotions. If you are feeling sad, you can improve your mood by smiling. This works on the psychological principle of behavioral activation, which is when you act in a manner opposite to your current behavior. At Basche’s Martial Arts, we often use this kind of technique in class with positive affirmations. We never say, “I’m not weak,” or “I’m not tired.” Instead, we use the opposite word (e.g., “I’m strong!” or “I’m energized!”). This is a more effective method of behavioral activation and avoids the use of negative words, ensuring that positive affirmations stay positive.
Always remember that how you act is a choice. You might initially be scared of flying, but you can overcome that fear by going on an airplane. This type of technique is used in exposure therapy, which is shown to improve people’s anxiety in 60%-90% of cases. You can also choose not to act on your anger or other emotions. By recognizing your emotions and choosing the correct response, you can keep your emotions in balance.
Here in the United States, many people have jobs and lifestyles which are sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle is one which is sorely lacking in physical activity. A person who works at a computer all day does not have as much of an opportunity to move as a construction worker. Even if your job is more active, you can benefit from planned exercise routines. If you don’t exercise regularly, you’ll lose muscular strength and endurance. You might even gain weight, which has a whole host of risks.
You can also do too much exercise. When this happens, you might experience fatigue, insomnia, and irritability. Worse, you put yourself at higher risk of overuse injuries like fractures and torn ligaments. Resting is important for building the muscles you’re working out. When you don’t take the time to rest, it’s like trying to build a house while someone keeps hitting the walls with a sledgehammer.
A Physical Balance Technique
How do you ensure you’re getting enough exercise but not too much? Sensei Basche recommends that you, “Make sure you sweat every day.” Even small exercises can add up, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re moving at least a little each day. Your specific exercise plan will ultimately depend on your fitness goals.
If you’re just trying to maintain a regular level of fitness, it’s recommended to spend 150 minutes each week exercising, with at least two days being spent on strength training. Those 150 minutes can be split into 5 days of exercising 30 minutes, which is more manageable. If you’re looking to start exercising more regularly, walking 30 minutes a day is a great start.
If you’re training in martial arts, it’s a good idea to exercise even more than that. We recommend at least 2 classes per week, but always encourage more. Martial arts is great for achieving and maintaining a high fitness level. A martial arts class is a full body workout, and even martial arts that primarily use the hands or the legs still work the other parts of the body.
It’s no secret that the average American diet is far from healthy. When people hear “American food,” they typically think of foods like hamburgers, French fries, hot dogs, or greasy carnival foods. Those thoughts aren’t too far from the truth; 61% of the American diet comes from foods which are generally unhealthy like processed carbohydrates, added fats, and added sugars. In moderation, those foods can be beneficial. They can provide you with the energy you need in a pinch but should be generally avoided.
We also think fruits and vegetables are healthy, but you can have too many fruits and vegetables. A purely plant-based diet misses several nutrients that are only present in animal products or dietary supplements. Iron is commonly lacking in vegetarian diets and can cause anemia and several other issues. If you do have a restrictive diet, it’s important to get the additional nutrients your body needs. If you’re struggling to meet dietary needs on a restrictive diet, make sure to talk to your doctor about ways you can get those necessary nutrients.
A Nutritional Balance Technique
One way to reach a better degree of nutritional balance is to make sure half to two-thirds of your plate consists of fruits and vegetables. If you’re trying to lose weight, have a plate heavier in vegetables. If you’re trying to gain weight or build muscle, eat more whole grains and lean proteins.
Have you ever walked into your home to see a pile of dishes in the sink, laundry baskets full of dirty laundry, and a dirty floor? If you have, you probably felt anxious about the mess piling up. Or maybe you have struggled to find something in your house only to find it three weeks later after you’ve already replaced it. These scenarios happen when your surroundings are out of balance. Just like there is an internal balance between order and chaos, so too is there an external balance between order and chaos.
If there is too much order in your surroundings, that means nothing will ever move or get used. You’d never be able to use a spoon to eat cereal or grab a pen to write down a note. On the other hand, if there is too much chaos, you’ll feel more anxious and have a hard time finding anything when you need it. So how do you keep your surroundings in balance?
Two External Balance Techniques
One simple technique to keep your surroundings in balance is to clean messes as they happen. This prevents messes from piling up while also keeping your surroundings clean in case of surprise visitors. If you’ve ever rushed to get the house clean before a guest arrives, you’ll avoid similar anxiety with this technique.
Another technique is to get rid of things you don’t need and avoid getting more unnecessary items. If you haven’t read a book in years, offer it to someone who wants to read it or donate it to your local library. Instead of having a whole cup of pens on your desk, keep one pen and buy ink refills for it.
A balanced life is a happy life. There are many ways life can get knocked off-balance, but there are also plenty of ways to overcome those obstacles. Through simple techniques like choosing the right response or getting rid of unnecessary items, you can bring your life into balance. And in the end, you’ll have less anxiety and more positivity.
If you’re looking to improve your life, Basche’s Martial Arts is a great place to start. We help our students of all shapes and sizes work on every aspect of balance to live more fulfilling lives.
June 23, 2023