Chasing 'balance' is futile, there is no such thing - switch off

While multitasking and rushing from one thing to the next has become the norm, it might not be so great for our health. Jayne Hardy, founder of The Blurt Foundation, explains why it’s important that we take the time to look after ourselves.

Being busy has become our modern-day default. There are some who wear that busyness as a badge of honour; seeing it as proof of their success and worthiness.

And then there are the balance-chasers. The ones who juggle all the balls to achieve a semblance of balance. The word ‘balance’, when applied to our lives, implies that there’s a happy medium - that sweet spot where we’re spending the optimum amount of time in each area of our lives. Chasing balance though is futile. There is no such thing. To be great at X, we must sacrifice Y. And so many times, the sacrifice we make, is to sacrifice ourselves. We’re going to bed later, getting up earlier, and are so busy doing all the things, that we just don’t stop for a breathe.

From the moment we are born, we innately know how to ask for what we need. As babies, we’ll cry if we’re hungry, cry if we’re too hot, too cold, uncomfortable, in pain, tired, or need a hug. We alert those around us that we have needs and that we want them met. 

We advance to a stage where we’re taught social skills and how to care for others; to respect our elders, look out for our youngers, and to treat everyone we meet fairly, and to do so with kindness and compassion.

Enter adulthood, and it all starts getting a bit fuzzy. This usually ties in with when we start to have responsibilities. There are many balls to juggle, and the self-care one tends to be the first ball to fall.

Feeling rested? We have no idea what that feels like anymore. Our world is full of deadlines, with a never-ending list of things that needed to be done yesterday, people to see, places to go. We cram as much as we possibly can into a day to try and stay afloat of all the pressures on us. There’s simply no time for something as fluffy and self-indulgent as self-care. It would be counter-productive to take some downtime when there’s so much to do. Wouldn’t it?

Read more: This is what happens to your brain when you're always online

These current times we live in are fast paced – we’re connected every which way but not necessarily to ourselves. We’re more accessible than ever. Social media contains a plethora of updates showing us the proof that our peers are hitting the ball out of the park and we feel we lack in comparison, forgetting that a picture is a just a snapshot – an edited one at that. We want to match-up.

When we crank through life at gazillion miles per hour without pause, we put an incredible strain on our minds and our bodies. We’re not designed to be on the go every minute of every single day. It’s not sustainable long-term – to be so frazzled. And we’re honestly fed up with feeling frazzled, despite our actions telling a different story.

If actions speak louder than words, then our actions are saying that we’re at the very bottom of our priority list.

That we’re not as important as work, money, and other people’s needs.

That feeling frazzled has become our new baseline.

That our boundaries are wonky, and we’re OK with that.

And despite knowing that the relationship we have with ourselves is an important one, we’re not quite sure who we are anymore. Our voice has been drowned out by the abundance of external chatter.

There’s a misconception that putting ourselves first is selfish. But it’s truly not. Nor is it self-indulgent. It’s simply survival. 

When we don’t make time for self-care, the stress, the resentment, the pace, all get too much and eventually we’re forced to stop because our health dictates that we have to – leading to burnout and mental ill health.

Then we have absolutely no choice but to take care of ourselves.

Self-care can be fluffy, but it can also be pretty darn uncomfortable too. Self-care can look like having an awkward conversation with someone about boundaries, it can be making an appointment for something you’ve been putting off, it can be squaring up to some tough decisions, and it can also mean taking a long hard look in the mirror.

We can’t partake in self-care effectively unless we have spent some time exploring and understanding what our needs are – what helps us to feel healthy, energised, relaxed, recuperated and nourished – both in the short and long-term. Self-care requires a hyper-self-awareness which comes with being mindful of how things make us feel. It requires discipline too, to ensure that self-care is continually prioritised as something important, something vital.

In allowing yourself the time to do the things which help you to be the very best and healthiest version of you, you become more focused, productive, efficient, level-headed, healthy and happy. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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