As we approach our third Thanksgiving holiday of the global pandemic, this year seems a bit more precarious than others before it. Over the past 33 months, I’m sure you’ve had the same thrill of a rickety wooden roller coaster of emotions from week to week, day to day, or even hour to hour, that I have. Based on where you get your news, each pandemic phase has been a journey to everything from grief, to hope, and beyond only to traipse back through it all and try to find where you might’ve dropped your favorite mask along the way.
Which brings my thoughts to balance…obviously. One of the hottest commodities of the past three years aside from toilet paper and baking yeast; balance is all the rage. The wisest people I’ve been listening to and learning from since trying to bake bread, knit a stocking cap, and make a cool-yet-unassuming virtual background all in the span of a week, have been touting the benefits of balanced living.
It’s Not That Easy
The trouble is, they all make it sound so simple. Do this one thing 15 minutes a day or incorporate one new ritual in your life and you will finally achieve the holy grail of being able to talk about balance on social media! It remains a hard concept to grasp, let alone know where to start when actually trying to bring it into my own life with two kids under 5, a middle schooler, a hyper-habitual home coffee addiction, and a world with new horrors showing daily.
But recently, I started thinking about balance in a new way. Not as something that will magically happen to me if I check certain boxes in my day or get my children to sleep on time, but rather as something more active that I need to try and create space for amongst the void of my Instagram feed and tens of hundreds of other pings and buzzes vying for my attention.
Doing Less Seems Best
In fact, finding balance has proven to be less about what I do and more about what I do not do. Part of what has helped this process has been the removal of a certain we-do-this-because-we’ve-always-done-this–ness since the beginning of the pandemic; which–admittedly–has done some of the heavy lifting for me. The key has been trying to take a bit of space to pause and reflect on what I could be doing less of so that I have room to notice what I can add to my life to create balance.
As with most things, coffee helps. I’ve noticed–especially since 2020– that taking stock in the few things you can control will help you let some of the other tough things move a little more freely through your life. Enter my 3-5 minutes of calm before (okay, sometimes in the midst of) my day gets filled with little voices and dings from my devices.
Slow Down & Smell The Coffee
The ritual of making coffee every morning, filling a mug, and taking a second to pause and stare out my kitchen window while the steam warms my cheeks and the aroma triggers a dopamine release in my brain can be a healing, restorative practice. I encourage you to try it next time you make coffee…really soak in the magic bean water that keeps you safely strapped in the coaster–happily taking in the views and enjoying the ride.
So, as the holiday week rolls on and you busy yourself with meal plans, shopping plans, family plans, rest plans, or even whether or not to make plans, remember this: after the ups and downs, stops and starts, and stay or go-s of the past few years, it will likely do you good to slow down and pull back from what everyone else is saying and listen inward. Follow what you know might give you a grounded sense of self and the confidence to keep it.