Balance: What it is and ways in which to find it!

Author : Sean Connolly, Health Promotion Officer

Balance: What it is and ways in which to find it!

Growing up, the only balance we had to concern ourselves with was when we removed the stabilisers from our bikes, ensuring we did not fall….but we did…..and we got back up!
We knew back then that the more we got back on that saddle and dug our heels in and moved, the longer we could cycle without those stabilisers attached to our bikes. Unbeknownst to ourselves, in our childlike minds, we were training our brains and bodies. We rewired our neurological and physical attributes to understand that we have the internal stabilisers, we have the drive and ambition to remain upright, to keep our direction true and if necessary, change direction by applying what we taught ourselves to continue on our journey.

As we grew older the simplicity and innocence of childhood faded. We began to mature, and all of these new sensations, external factors, people and feelings began to come into our lives. We intentionally took on more than we should have as we began to discover ourselves and the world we lived in. We began to explore what and who they are. At times these journeys could lead us down paths which are were suited to us or our needs – isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing – I believe that these journeys are truly necessary in understanding who we are.
We need to understand that the internal stabilisers we once had need to be reinforced, multiplied and maintained for the paths we travel down as we mature. We have more commitments, responsibilities and goals! Therefore, we need to rewire and retrain our minds and bodies. This isn’t something to be overwhelmed by, if anything, it’s to be embraced and viewed through a lens of positivity. We simply retrain our internal stabilisers in much the same way as we did from a young age.

If we rewind for a moment and cast our minds eye back to take a look at our first bike – mine was a blue BMX – I wasn’t overwhelmed, I loved it! Sure, I was slightly nervous, I knew I could fall, I had seen it happen and then I was told about the stabilisers. I sat on the saddle and unknowingly was already leaning to one side but thanks to those stabilisers I didn’t fall, I was supported, I was buzzing! It was a great feeling – I took off and nothing was stopping me!
That nervous feeling returned and increased somewhat when I saw those stabilisers come off. I sat on that saddle as I did countless times and before I knew it I instantly threw my leg out to the side so I didn’t fall. Now my blue BMX with no extra wheels was more of a challenge and my journey of growing my internal stabilisers even more so became a reality, I had accountability to myself to not fall off the saddle. It took time but as discussed in the beginning I got back on the saddle, I kept training my mind and body to gain the basics of balance for the purpose of regaining that feeling of when I first sat on that saddle and….I got that feeling back!

As adults we can apply these same principles of drive, determination and training (mentally, physically and emotionally) to maintain balance in our day to day lives, we get back on that saddle every day. Although the bike in my minds eye is now a bit bigger and has a motor attached (and possibly a sidecar) to support my commitments, responsibilities and goals, I’ll continue adding modifications to it so I can continue my journey on a healthy, positive path.

So what can we do? What stabilisers can be incorporated into our daily lives? I will leave you with these five tips:

1. Disconnect
Technology is literally everywhere these days. We do need it to a degree – we need it to function in todays society both personally and professionally, be it to stay connected with colleagues or getting that report done. The fact the certain technologies remain on does not mean that you have to remain on when it comes to work or that never-ending scrolling screen. When your day ends simply close that Inbox, disconnect and do the same with mobile devices in the evening. End your working day at a reasonable time, do your designated hours and no more! Set screen time apps on your phone to remind you when you been on it too much in a 24 hour period. Be disciplined in your approach to allow your brain and body to rest. Rest is a fundamental part of training so do it by disconnecting!

2. Say No for You!
Explore self-compassion and be kind to yourself. If you always say Yes and take on unnecessary tasks and loads you will soon find that balance gets harder to keep! Say Yes to what is manageable and necessary for you and say No to what can throw you off balance. It’s important to be kind and express compassion to others but it begins with you first and foremost. Once you fill that inner tank with positive energy you will soon find the excess easier to share and do share it – you get back what you out there!

3. Get outside!
If technology is one that is always on, then the outdoors is one thing that is never ending, it’s limitless and it’s all yours! We all have access and the ability to embrace the outdoors, it doesn’t cost a thing. It allows time for disconnection and allows time for self-compassion. Being outdoors has proven to reduce stress, improve your mood and allows your eyes to relax away from those screens and notice the finer things in life. It also benefits us in later life by improving our mobility and longevity

4. Learn something new!
The more we learn the more neurological pathways we begin to build. Through this process we train our brain to become more adaptable to change and who knows what new paths may open for you when you invest time for yourself in something you have an interest in.

5. Have Fun!
Remember that feeling you had when those stabilisers finally came off? Embrace your inner child and that feeling of joy and accomplishment. Find the fun in finding the balance!