Today’s guest post was written by Sue Ludwig, a neonatal occupational therapist and a published poet. Sue is a consultant to neonatal intensive care units around the country and a national speaker. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.
We are made to be in balance.
By balance I mean that in mind, body and spirit we function well on a day-to-day basis.
But sometimes our thoughts about living in balance come fully equipped with images of peaceful ocean shores, yoga, and at least 3 weeks of vacation each year. In other words, all year long we live out of balance and hope to recoup it in one tidy time span. Preferably in a beautiful place.
As if balance can occur only when we’ve set aside time for it.
If our bodies lived by this rule, we’d be sick or hurt constantly. Bodies don’t wait. They adjust constantly to changing conditions.
The great thing is we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Nature has most things figured out.
I have learned a few things from the human body that make living a balanced life a tangible reality:
#1 – Your body balances in real time.
Our bodies do not just go on cruise control for balance. Balance in all of our systems is an active process that happens constantly in real time.
Our body maintains our temperature to within a few degrees of ‘normal’ all the time. This means it does not wait until our temperature is 103 before signaling that we’re hot. We sweat instead, and out temp lowers. It happens so fast we don’t even realize it.
Our bodies know that playing catch up when things are off balance is not nearly as efficient and healthy as adjusting for balance constantly.
I think about this as I learn that waiting to clean off my desk until it becomes a 5-hour task is not as efficient as doing it each morning. The latter helps me feel in balance, and I am more productive.
Waiting to eat until I’m so hungry I go face down in the nearest carbohydrate to calm my system, does not work to maintain balance either. It takes hours to return my system to normal.
I consciously take time off during the year, some with my family, and some on my own. All of this helps me feel balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If I save it all for the end of the year or the summer, I get depleted along the way. When vacation finally comes I’m just stressed and rely on that one vacation to meet all of my needs for the year.
#2 Your body doesn’t do drama.
Our bodies don’t make a big deal of their quest for balance. Our cells just go about their work to support us. No drama. No, “I can’t believe she just ate another cookie and now I have to adjust her sugar levels AGAIN,” coming from our bodies.
Our white blood cells do not throw in the towel after fighting off an infection, citing unequal workload. The system improves because of their efforts. They have helped restore balance. They return to normalcy without praise or applause.
Our bodies work for one common goal:
Supporting the system to maintain its highest level of function.
I used to be great at this. The drama part I mean.
As I prepared to leave town for work, I’d worry out loud about the kids’ schedules, and how it would all get done. My husband would just look at me and say, “I’ve got it covered.” (i.e. no drama, no sighing, no talk about how this affected his work schedule.)
I learned from his approach. And recognized that drama detracts time and energy from the balance of my own system as well as my family’s. Now I get back in balance as soon as I hear myself going down that road. (Ok, sometimes my husband has to raise his eyebrows at me first.)
My husband and I each make sacrifices without drama; we simply each do what needs to be done.
Just like those white blood cells, we never keep score.
#3 – Your body sometimes needs help.
Our bodies are made to maintain balance in our system under “tolerable conditions.”
Sometimes our bodies and our lives find themselves in conditions that are outside the normal scope of what we are designed to handle.
In this case, be it sickness, depression, financial issues, we need help to maintain balance. Some things are just greater than we can handle alone. And that is both okay and universal.
Our bodies teach us that it is always worth being part of the solution.
What does your body teach you about balance?