If I’ve learnt anything during our sustainable living journey, it would be that to stay on the path, one has to be in balance in three important areas of your life.
Your life has to have equal measures of meaningful work, hardy play, and peaceful rest. I can speak from experience when I say that if any one of these three things begins to dominate then you may suffer physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Let me give you some examples of this in action in my own life.
When I work the day at my day job and then work on our small business at night, I find that my play time suffers, as well as rest. Rest is vital to recharge your internal batteries so that you feel fresh as you possibly can the next day. I know when I work too long and rest too little, I cannot think straight and make bad and unsustainable decisions. My mind becomes cluttered and I start to feel overwhelmed.
I also take short-cuts that often have other financial impacts like paying for take-away food when we have enough food in the pantry or garden ready to cook, especially if Kim is tired as well. It also affects my mood, and that’s when tiredness leads to grumpiness. I’m not good to be around when I have my grumpy bear head on!
On the other hand, when I am on extended leave and am continuously playing and resting, I find that I have an urge to get back into some meaningful work. Too much play and/or rest makes me feel lazy and lethargic, which is the opposite of what I am trying to achieve. However if I balance that out with some hard work in the veggie patch or the by cleaning out the chook house, I feel much better.
Exercise is another play task because it’s not work and not rest. Daily exercise is an essential part of a sustainable lifestyle and can be a simple as a lunchtime walk, or a game in the park with friends, or pottering around the garden, or even a session at the gym. Exercise has amazing benefits, even if only for 30 minutes each day. Just make it fun and you will make it a habit that turns into a permanent behaviour. I’m no Adonis but I do get my daily exercise to help keep me balanced.
I also find that if I don’t consciously take the time to rest my mind via 30 minutes of meditation a few times a week, that I begin to have cluttered thoughts and again lose focus on goals and objectives. I would consider meditation a form of rest for the mind and spirit. Without it, I feel incomplete. I usually do this on the way home on the train. By closing my eyes, clearing my thoughts and focusing just on my breathing, I find a place of inner calm that helps me wind down from my work.
Don’t forget that a good night’s sleep is essential to recharge your body’s batteries. I read that 8 hours sleep is the minimum that your body needs to recover from the day, and by getting less affects vital regeneration that it needs to function effectively. That old adage of “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise”, has been told and repeated over generations for good reason. That’s because it works!
A Good Balance
An example of good balance was our day yesterday. Kim, Ben and I rose early to get to the soy candle making workshop an hour before it started so to set up before the students arrived. We had a small breakfast and packed our lunch. We worked hard until 2pm, then came home, unpacked the workshop stuff from the car and put it back into storage.
Kim then mentioned that she could kill a cider! That was enough for me to seek some out. Whilst we were relaxing, we chatted and just enjoyed each others company until about 8.30pm. We were both tired from the days events, so we decided to go to bed (to sleep). Both fast asleep by about 9pm.
And you know what? We both woke this morning feeling full of energy, ready to start the new day with a bounce in our step. That’s because everything was in balance.
Just Try Your Best
So, I’m not saying that everything has to be in perfect balance. Nobody’s perfect, especially yours truly.
I still get slightly out of balance, but am now usually aware I am doing it and know when to reign in one activity if it starts to get out of control. Thankfully I also have Kim to let me know if I don’t notice it soon enough. She will soon tell me to slow down (because she cares and doesn’t want me to burn out).
Just be conscious of the amount of time you spend doing each of these three things during the day and be aware if one is taking over your life at the expense of the other two.
Too much of either one or two can lead to long-term issues further down your journey. By using your common sense and taking the time to self check will make all the difference to your wellbeing.
I know it has for me. Balancing work, play, and rest has made a remarkable difference to my life and to what I have been able to achieve. I am sure it can make a huge difference to you as well.