We here at Firstbeat – together with wellness providers around the world – are in the business of discussing different viewpoints and strategies for balancing our busy lives better, to be equipped not only to manage life’s challenges, but to actually thrive, perform at a high level and have enough energy to enjoy life. This is obviously not as easy as it sounds; if it was, the topic of work-life balance, stress management, relaxation strategies and toolkits for better coping would not be addressed so much in blogs, books, conferences and webinars. The equation is particularly tricky because the challenges that we face are so different – and our bodies and our minds respond to stress, physical or mental load, and life’s ups and downs in very different, unique ways.
Needless to say, there is no one prescription that will work for everyone or a magical wearable that will put our lives in perfect balance once and for all. More than anything, we must learn to listen to our bodies to figure out the wellness recipe that works for us, as basic and non-technological as that sounds. The topic is at the core of my work as a wellness specialist, and a work-in-progress in my personal life, so here are yet again a few reminders to take better care of ourselves and keep finding creative ways to offset the stressors of life with winning recovery strategies. This seems to be a buzzing theme this month – you can also tune into it in a Firstbeat webinar on Mindfulness by Jeroen Janss on March 9th or on Personalized recovery strategies to be more energetic at work and during leisure on March 28th. Sign up and join us!
I’ve been reading Margaret Moore’s book Organize your emotions, optimize your life that discusses the unique internal struggles that each person should solve and learn to balance in order to be effective and maintain the ability to enjoy life. One of the sentences that jumped out last night was this: “Even in the midst of a busy, overscheduled day, you can slow down and take the time to connect with someone” … True that – and the sentence could also be completed in so many other fitting ways … take the time to take a few deep breaths … to smell the roses or enjoy the beauty of nature … to just be for a few mins … to listen to a great piece of music. And we should take that time especially during our overscheduled days – that’s when our body is craving for that little release the most! There will always be busy days when we have more things to do than we can comfortably handle, or when obstacles are making our lives a lot harder than they should be, but we are likely to get just as much done – and hopefully even feel better while doing it – if we take a few moments during the day to slow down and let go.
There are big differences in what works for different people (and you should definitely start figuring out what works for you!), but several recent studies speak strongly in favor of mid-busy-day activities such as taking a short walk in a park, stretching, deep breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness. Our busy, problem-solving brains need and deserve that break to continue functioning at a high level – and our autonomic nervous system needs to give the fight-or-flight system that keeps us performing at a high level a break, and let the rest-and recovery side take over, not only during sleep, but also periodically during the day.
It’s all about the balance between different demands and things to do, and when you get the balance right, life can sometimes actually feel like a day at the beach. It’s not easy, but it’s something to aim for! To help you get there, remember to slow down and take the time to …. (fill in your own re-charging activity).
Tiina is an Exercise Physiologist who works at Firstbeat as a Wellness Specialist. Growing up as a skier, Tiina spent 4 years cross-country ski racing and later 4 year coaching at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. After moving back to Finland, she found her way to Firstbeat after several years in overtraining and heart rate variability field studies at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports and the University of Jyväskylä. To maintain a good balance in her own life, she enjoys the outdoors – kayaking, hiking, xc-skiing and escaping to her cabin in the woods.