Published on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 08:27
Kate Sturdy
white tulips lying down

One of my Career Break Quests was for better balance.  It’s a sort of Holy Grail in a world when most of us seem to experience the opposite – the constant juggling, the endless demands on our time and energy.

And I know I’m not alone: how to improve work-life balance is a consistent question at Thresholds networking events. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming we might see balance as symmetry, feel it in our bodies walking a tightrope, hear it when the bass is adjusted to the treble, even smell or taste balance as something deliciously rounded. I expressed my career break goal through physical activities and mental states: work, exercise, creative, sociable.

Through my coaching studies and practice, I have found out so much more about balance and the invisible, internal brain processes which lie behind it. Maslow’s famous pyramid tells us that we can’t achieve much without satisfying our basic need for safety, yet our experience of the pandemic is to be constantly fearful and vigilant. Plassman and Kessler call this “Covid-19 Brain… a fragile, frazzled state that keeps our thoughts simultaneously on edge and unfocused.” Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barnett explains how your brain is constantly regulating all aspects of your physical body, using up resources like oxygen and glucose. Some activities withdraw from your resource bank, such as exercise or stressful conversations. Others are like resource deposits that replenish you, such as sleeping or cuddling a pet. She calls this “body budgeting” – and it’s basically how you keep your whole physical and mental system in balance.

So how balanced am I right now? I have been tracking my habits for 6 months and can report a sustained level of work, a sustained and surprisingly high level of exercise, a plateaued level of creativity and a variable-to-low level of weekly fun. I am certainly feeling a bit lopsided and hearing some dodgy notes. Perhaps the fun will rev up as Covid restrictions relax…

How do you describe balance? What does it feel, look, sound, smell and taste like for you? How can you make it happen?