It’s no secret the planet is going through massive shifts, and so, it seems, are we. According to the research platform Our World in Data, anxiety is more prevalent than ever before. As a result, our psyches need to find nourishment, calm and replenishment to combat the effects of the stressors we face every day—think of finding that balance as an act of self-preservation. Here, we offer up 11 ways to do it.
1. Prioritize self-care
In this chillier season, make some time for hot baths with Epsom salts, reading a book, cooking your favourite soup and getting more rest. The better you feel after these small comforts, the more balanced your life will be.
2. Practice yoga and meditation
We’re bombarded with a continuous flow of news and information and we need a way to calm our systems and give them some TLC. Mindful exercises allow us to connect with ourselves on a deeper level, so go ahead and give yourself the gift of centredness.
3. Connect with nature
Anytime you need a boost of energy, head outdoors. Multiple studies have shown that spending time in nature fuels creativity, focuses the mind and releases feel-good vibes by boosting endorphin and dopamine levels.
4. Learn to say no
It’s a small word with a big impact. Allowing yourself to say no to some of the time-sucking demands on your precious evenings and weekends—without the guilt—gives you the freedom to attend to what’s important to you, including (hopefully) fostering some extra energy that brings back joy. Saying no isn’t always easy, but the more you find the courage to do so, the more comfortable you’ll be with putting yourself first.
5. Cut back on caffeine
A cup of joe makes you feel alert, sure, but too much of it can harm your nervous system and derail the body’s messages, like the one signalling you to rest. Try eliminating caffeine in the evening and replacing it with herbal tea. Look for one that can deliver a balanced head space without the jitters, such as peppermint or rosemary for alertness, ginger for improved cognitive function or tulsi for combating stress and anxiety.
6. Go with the flow
Finding balance involves knowing you can’t control everything. Whatever your goal is (a new job offer, say), work toward it diligently and then, when you know you’ve done everything you can, let nature take its course and surrender the need to dictate the outcome. Allowing yourself to be content with your efforts brings peace.
7. Take a tech break
More and more we’re realizing the negative aspects of being digitally available 24/7 through social media, messaging apps and news updates delivered instantaneously. Consequently, it’s a no-brainer that regularly going offline, such as an hour before bedtime until the morning or for an entire day on the weekend, can improve the work-life balance.
8. Give more
There’s a growing body of research that suggests that altruism doesn’t only benefit the recipients of charitable actions, it improves the well-being of the givers, too, by activating regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that giving back releases endorphins the same way physical exercise does, producing the feeling known as the “helper’s high.” So take on some volunteer work, help out your friends or donate to charity to make a difference in someone’s life and bring contentment to your own.
In a 2017 article, Hanna Poikonen of the Cognitive Brain Research Unit at the University of Helsinki stated, “In dance, the basic elements of humanity combine in a natural way. It combines creative act, fine-tuned movement and collaboration, much like playing music.” More than that, studies that focus on the neuroscience of dance have found that in professionals, the brain waves associated with emotions and cognition show enhanced synchronicity. That suggests that dancing enables us to be more in harmony with ourselves, and with the world around us.
10. Cut back on clutter
Owning too much stuff is bad for the spirit. Basically, it comes down to awareness and mindfulness: Focusing on what is meaningful and important helps keep the mind clear and the psyche balanced. According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, for example, every year the average Canadian throws out 81 pounds of textiles. That’s a lot of extra weight—both physical and mental—that we’re carrying around. Try reusing, recycling, renting and choosing vintage or second-hand over new or mass-produced.
11. Ask for help
How often have you become overworked and overwhelmed because you’ve insisted on doing everything yourself? Although it’s hard to admit to being vulnerable or in need, in fact it’s good for us. Requesting help leads to less stress and better resiliency, as well as better connectivity and the development of new perspectives. All these benefits allow you to balance your load more effectively.
ISABELLE LAFLÈCHE IS THE HOST OF THE SOULFUL COUTURE PODCAST, AND THE AUTHOR OF J’ADORE NEW YORK, BONJOUR GIRL AND BONJOUR SHANGHAI. ■