Creating Balance In Your Life

Balance in life is something that we all seek, but many struggle to find. We all wear so many hats; employee, spouse, parent, friend, child, volunteer, the list goes on. While many of these hats bring us immense joy, they also bring us a feeling of stress and failure when we aren’t able to balance it all. All that stress, especially when it’s chronic, can cause negative emotional and physical effects, ranging from muscular tension to depression and even heart problems. So, here are a few simple ways to bring more balance into your life every day.

Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. Have you ever noticed that you take on many of the traits and emotions of those around you? If you’re constantly exposed to negative people, stressful situations, and let’s face it, drama that doesn’t need to be in your life, it’s going to take its toll. With all that you have going on in your life, the last thing you need is to have to worry about baggage that never seems to go away. Helping a friend through a rough patch is great, but if it’s a constant source of stress with no reciprocal support, it may be time to cut back on the time you spend in that relationship. Those that give you a real break and let your social self flourish, spend more time with them. If you have someone who leaves you even more stressed and down after your interaction, set boundaries and limit your time with them.

Once you’ve established more boundaries concerning the people you surround yourself with, it’s time to turn your attention to balancing all the plates you’re juggling. We live in a busy time, so prioritizing your schedule is a must. Obviously, work is a necessity for most of us, but if you’re taking on extra hours or staying over all the time to complete a project because you’re struggling with time management, find ways to optimize your time while there so you can avoid that overtime if possible and keep the rest of your time for other things. As for home life, something as simple as making a cleaning schedule and meal planning each week can immediately help to save you time and stress. Getting your family on board takes even more stress off of you. Also, you can have one meal prep day every week or so to get breakfast and snacks ready to grab at any time and either cook ahead or at least prep ingredients to throw in a slow cooker or the oven as needed. An hour every Sunday can save you a few hours through the week.

Make sure your personal time is valuable, helping you nourish yourself and the most important relationships in your life. Family game night, movie night, and craft night can all be great options that allow your family to put the phones down and focus on one another. Scheduling one day a month with friends to grab lunch, dinner, or even a quick coffee to catch up can be a perfect solution to your self-care and social needs.

Another thing to keep in mind is it’s okay to say no. With such a busy schedule, you’re going to need time to not only keep all these things balanced, but take time for yourself too. Whether you promise to read a new book each week, treat yourself to dinner once a week, take an hour for yourself, or get a monthly massage, doing something for yourself is a must and should be just as much a priority as anything else. Finding balance in life isn’t about putting as much as you can on your plate, it’s about knowing your limits and working within them to build the most meaningful life you can.

How Muscle Imbalances Can Lead to Pain and Injury

A muscle imbalance is simply when one muscle or muscle group is stronger than another. For example, your right arm may be stronger than your left, or your biceps are stronger than your triceps. It’s typically not much of a problem; we’re rather asymmetrical beings in general anyway, but muscle imbalances in some areas can play a role in creating problems within the body leading to injuries and pain.

One problem that can occur is that your weaker muscles tire out before the stronger muscles. You might see this at the gym when someone is lifting a barbell, and one side is lower than the other. If those weaker muscles tire out during a workout or strenuous activity, the stronger muscles will work even harder to pick up the slack. This can put undue stress on them, causing overuse and resulting in injuries and pain.

For example, the quads and hamstrings are a common source of imbalance in people. The quads lie on the front of the thigh and the hamstrings on the back. When the quads become much stronger than the hamstrings, the most common imbalance of these two, this puts you at a much higher risk of knee injuries, like an ACL tear.

When we speak of balance, it’s not necessarily that each muscle or muscle group needs to be able to handle the exact same load weight, but rather handle them at the proper ratio. Some muscles are meant to be stronger than others, and that’s what truly creates the intricate balance of the body. Like in the example above with quads and hamstrings, the quads are supposed to be stronger than the hamstrings, but the ratio should be about 4:3, so for every 4 pounds the quads can lift, the hamstrings can lift 3.

You don’t have to know and workout like crazy to get the perfect ratio for every single muscle group and pairing of the body to keep balanced. Simply working in all motions and being aware of your body can give you a clear indication when something is off. Sticking with the quad/hamstring example, if you’ve torn your hamstring a time or two, that might be a good indication that you’ve got an imbalance and should strengthen your hamstrings more. It would also be a good idea to ensure that when you’re working out, you’re not just sticking with forward and backward movements, but rather moving in all directions with every joint; ensuring that you’re strengthening in all planes. Move forward, backward, out to the side and toward the middle, rotate in toward the body and away from it.

While muscle imbalances are common, and depending on your daily activities, may be unavoidable, taking the time to bring your awareness to how your body is feeling and operating can clearly show you where you might need to alter your movements to bring balance back.