Finding balance in my life has been something I’ve struggled with for years, and I know I am not alone. A lot of us get overwhelmed with too many things to accomplish, too many people to devote our time to, too many goals that seem out of reach, and somehow there is never enough time to do it all. If our lives feel off balanced, we may experience anxiety, not feeling good enough for our loved ones, disappointed in ourselves, not sleeping or eating (or forgetting to) and putting important things on the back burner. And when this constantly happens, our mental health starts to take a downfall.
As an extroverted empath myself, finding balance is something that doesn’t come easy to me, but it is crucial if I want to keep myself sane and my mental health in tact. The extroverted part of me absorbs energy from going to places with groups of people, spending time with others, or even just calling or texting a friend or family member to interact.The empath part of me absorbs energies from outside sources or other people like my bloodstream absorbs my morning caffeine. And if I am around any energy that isn’t compatible with my own at the moment, I start to feel exhausted and drained. I’ve always known I was a highly sensitive person, in fact EVERYTHING about me is sensitive: my emotions, my personality, even my skin. But I didn’t notice how sensitive I was to the energies around me until about a year ago and have since learned how much of an empath I am.Since then, I have accepted my personality traits and have learned to find a balance between the extroverted and the empathetic side of me. These two traits are polar opposite, and if I can find a way around them and continue balance throughout my life, I believe you can to.
- Priorities should take most of your energy, but not all of it.
Everyone has different priorities in life. Maybe you’re working towards becoming the next CEO of a big company, maybe you are in the middle of a weight loss journey, or maybe you are trying to be the best house wife and soccer mom there ever was. Whatever you’re working towards, keep working towards it. You’re doing great! However, just because you have a priority, doesn’t mean that you should put all of your time and energy towards that one thing. If all of your time and energy is only directed towards one thing, the other parts of your life will start to crumble.
Take the CEO for example. This guy still has a family, friends, a body that needs food and sleep, a home that needs to be cared for, and a brain that will go insane if it is overworked. When all of his focus and energy is on working towards that position, it will be difficult for him to find balance in other areas of his life. He may start to lose his relationships with friends and family, his living space will always feel messy, and he may experience panic attacks, insomnia, or weight gain. Even though he will have the euphoric feeling of all of his hard work paying off (IF and WHEN) he becomes the CEO, his life will become out of order, and always feel imbalanced. Simply reminding yourself that priorities should take up most of your time and energy, but not all of it will help you find a healthy balance.
- Do what you’re doing, while you are doing it.
This one may sound a little confusing, but it is actually pretty straightforward. I’ll start with a few examples. Most of you go to a place that you call work, this place is where you work. You go to a place called the gas station, this is where you get gas. You go to the gym, this is where you exercise. You go to a family dinner at your grandparents, this is where you eat dinner and spend time with family. You hangout with friends, to socialize and have fun. Pretty simple right?
The problems occur when you start doing other things other than the thing that you are doing. When you start putting your focus towards other responsibilities other than the one you are focusing on, things become messy and imbalanced. When you are at work, your focus should be on work, not on the vacation that you are planning next year. When you are at the gas station or the gym, your focus should be completely on the task that you are there to do. When you are spending time with family and friends, you should focus on being presently with them, not answering work emails and phone calls, scrolling through social media, connecting with others who are not there, etc.
I know it’s easier said than done, and this one will take practice, but if you truly want to feel balanced- stay in the moment and put your focus on the task that you’re doing while you’re doing it. Overall, this will help you feel more balanced, fulfilled, and accomplished.
- Plan ahead. (emotionally)
A lot of you may look at that first word and want to skip right over this tip. I know planning ahead doesn’t come naturally to some of you, but keep reading along because I am not talking about “five year plans” or “itineraries and timelines for your week.” I am talking about emotionally planning ahead. As an empath, this step is very important in keeping myself sane. And even if you aren’t an empath yourself, I think this little trick can help you too.
I’ll use my sensitive little self as the example here. When I emotionally prepare myself for a future event, I get less overwhelmed and anxious when the event actually happens. If I know I am going to Vegas with friends for the weekend, I can mentally prepare myself to be surrounded by large groups of people, loud noises, a lot of traffic, and a night of no sleep. About a week prior, I will stop communicating with a lot of different personality types, and push my errands and social gatherings back a week to save my emotional energy for the weekend.
If I emotionally prepare myself to spend the whole night alone with my dog and my favorite Netflix series, I can prepare myself to not get stir crazy, unmotivated, or lonely. I will put my focus on being alone, practice new hobbies, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Emotionally preparing ahead is nothing like physically planning ahead, it’s more a mind trick that I’ve learned how to subconsciously teach myself over the years. It takes practice, but I think preparing for the energy that will soon be around us can prepare us from negatively absorbing it, or getting exhausted from it.
Who else struggles with turning down opportunities or invitations? As an extroverted person myself, I have a large group of close family and friends and my weeks are usually filled with many different social gatherings. I used to never say no to an invitation, to anyone in need of help, or to staying extra hours at work. I always covered shifts, showed up to gatherings, and always replied with a YES, even when I didn’t really feel like attending (or working an extra 10 hours a week). Even though this brought me many great people and opportunities into my life, I eventually wore myself thin.
After a while of living this way, I learned that I had no time or energy left to focus on myself. And in the midst of it all, I became exhausted, I became depressed, and I became lost. Who was I? What did I enjoy doing? What were my hobbies? The extroverted side of me felt this desperate need to always be surrounded by others, but the empath part of me was drowning, and begging for some time to decompress from the constant variety of energies that I constantly surrounded myself with.
It wasn’t until I learned how to say no, that I finally found a healthy balance of social time, and alone time. I have now learned where my exhaustion point is and even though most invitations and opportunities sound exciting and fun, I have no problem with turning a few of them down- For my mental sanity and to keep my life feeling balanced.
If I have a long, exhausting day at work, and a friend asks me to get dinner, I simply reply with a “no, a different day?” and look forward to my quiet house with no other energy filling the space besides my own. Plus, moving dinner to a different day gives me time to emotionally plan ahead. 😉 Empath or not, I think it is crucial for all of us to be alone with our own thoughts and energy every once in a while, to learn about the person we are, and what we enjoy, without the influence or energies of others.
Side note: to keep your alone time consistent, pick a place or a time of day that you always spend alone. Example: the gym, your morning coffee, your bath tub, dinner on Thursday nights, your yoga mat, a evening walk every Sunday, etc. (And remember do what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. This is your ALONE time, stay disconnected from your phone, so you can connect with yourself.)
- Remember, there is enough time
When your life start to feel imbalanced, for whatever reason it does, most of us always seem to say the same or similar excuses of “I am soooo busy.” or “There is just not enough time.” “I can’t keep up..” Sound familiar? I know we’re all guilty of it.
There is nothing wrong with being busy or having a lot going on, but guess what? There is always enough time. You have just as much time in a day as Beyonce. We all do. Stop blaming your sad imbalanced life on the time you don’t have. Not only is this an unhealthy way of thinking, it is also going to cause anxiety and make you feel overwhelmed about all of the time you’ve wasted, or the “not enough” you have left.
Instead, learn to prioritize and manage your time. Maybe you need to buy a calendar, maybe you need to wake up 2 hours earlier, maybe you need to spend less time on your video game, and more time with your parents. Or maybe, like me, you need to learn to say no, and reschedule with loved ones, or take a day off from work. Whatever you need to do, do it. Just please stop telling yourself there isn’t enough time, because eventually you’ll start believing it. And who wants to spend their time worrying about not having enough time? Prioritize and work for that balance.
I promise you, there is always enough time.And with that, I wish you all a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Onto the next adventure, Wren