Let’s face it: we all know the things that are good for us.
In some deep-rooted corner of our stomach or diaphragm, or wherever you feel your instinctive urges, we know that staying up that extra hour binge-watching Netflix is going to result in googly eyes until lunchtime tomorrow.
But still we do it, because it’s easy to give in to the urges and not think about the future in those terms—wanting to prolong the feeling of contentment as long as possible, and at whatever cost.
But balance is something that only you can find for yourself. Health service and medical advice aside, you are ultimately the only one who can know your own body and mind, feel your own emotions, hear your own thoughts, and heed what works and doesn’t for yourself.
Listening to your body’s needs and being able to heed them accordingly are two very separate things, however, and too often we let things slip purely out of laziness or for simplicity’s sake.
Sometimes it takes a subhuman strength of will to haul my mind out of the gutter of magical, idealistic thinking, and into the simple reality of what is. Because reality is simple. Here and now, right here, right now, with no thoughts preoccupied with the future or with the past, I have a sense of peace and serenity that stems only from my situation in this present moment, and only this present moment.
There are certain things and environmental factors which I’ve noticed help me to achieve this sense of self and make it more accessible in times of distress.
So, in order to further promote this balance and help myself return here when it becomes necessary again (because even the most balanced person stumbles every now and then), I’ve compiled a list of things that help me personally to maintain balance in the midst of mental, emotional, or environmental chaos.
1. Rise early. You may not catch any worms, but you’ll certainly get a headstart to the day and a chance to spend some time with yourself and thoughts in order to properly be able to figure them out before the day begins.
2. Eat well. (An oldie, but a goodie.)
3. Drink water—this speaks for itself.
4. Get enough sleep.
5. Listen to your body.
6. Wear sunscreen.
7. Spend time with yourself.
8. Spend time in nature.
10. Read books while travelling.
11. Read books in bed.
12. Just read books.
13. Travel often. Movement is key to living—“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.”
14. Lock your door and dance around (bonus points if it’s in the dark).
15. Sit in a bar or restaurant alone, and enjoy your own company.
16. Drink coffee.
17. Write things down.
18. Write yourself well.
19. Stretch daily.
20. Yoga poses soothe. You know this.
21. Exercise to feel your heart beat in your chest—to feel and stay alive.
22. Indulge in chocolate.
23. Make playlists of songs that make you feel.
24. Do things that make your eyes light up when you talk about them.
25. Spend time with people with whom you can laugh and feel alive, yet who will also remain steadfast and supportive in times of need.
26. Feel your emotions. They’re there for a reason.
27. Take care of your body. You are the only one with the power to do so.
28. Wear what you’re comfortable in. Nobody (yourself included) needs or wants to see you pull up your tights again.
29. Cleanse and moisturize daily—physical freshness can help to have & fall back on in the case of an unexpected mental shift during the day.
30. Give your full attention to someone if they’re taking the time to speak to you—even if you’ve no idea or opinion on what they’re saying.
31. Wherever you are, be all there. Mindfulness and being present in the moment is one of the most straightforward ways to be at ease with yourself and situation, yet ironically is generally the last thought to occur to us in times of stress.