There is this idea in life that we need to balance everything. Our happiness, our security, our careers, our friendships, our Mondays all the way through to Fridays with a little wiggle room at the weekend. The problem with this idea of being balanced, of trying to perfect that flawless equilibrium of work and life and the fast-paced rollercoaster of kids, is that not everything weighs the same, and most of the time the scales need a little adjusting.
Inevitably something is going to topple.
Being balanced in life is one of those myths which has scourged us since becoming parents. I’ve never liked the expression “work life balance” because even a hairs breadth can kick everything off kilter. And then what? We’re hit with anxiety, fear of failure, and stress because we let a few things fall while trying to balance the immense load. So let’s forget about being balanced for one moment and think of it in a different way. How about aiming to be centred? Grounded even.
Being centred and grounded is a whole lot more accessible and much more supportive and kinder to our ever-evolving journey through life and parenthood. It takes the pressure off and encourages us to nurture ourselves so we can approach life with a sense of wholeness and confidence. It steers us beyond the scales of balance as we hold on and no matter how chaotic things can become, we can’t be knocked off balance because we have deep roots to hold us up. The question is how can we root ourselves in the first place?
Being Centred and Grounded in a Nutshell
Have you ever watched a friend as she cooked dinner, answered the phone, and eased a tantrum all at the same time? Have you watched her with amazement as she took it all in her stride with a calmness and composure reserved for professional ice skaters as she glided from situation to situation? That’s being centred. There is no doubt that she is exhausted by the end of the day and incredibly happy when bedtime rolls around. But she manages her chaotic and crazy days without an unnecessary pressure or stress making everything ten times harder. Being centred is about figuring out what is important and recognising what you can let go of.
In a similar way, being grounded is essentially being mindful and aware of everything around us and accepting the hectic days as they are while leaning into them. And yes, I know this is not an easy ask when the pot boils over and every loo roll is being unravelled by a sudocrem covered toddler but it is possible and it’s almost a necessity to give us that level of calm in our minds to help us focus. When we connect with ourselves, appreciate and see ourselves, we have a deeper understanding of what we need and want out of life. None of us want to live on the precarious edge of the scales trying to maintain that perfect steadiness, constantly worrying something will have to give.
How to Remain Grounded
Many of us have a bit of trouble with our breath. It’s not always as simple as breathe in, pause and out again when anxiety takes a good hard grip on your soldiers. Learning to breathe our way through situations which heighten our emotions in a difficult way will help to keep you grounded. There are many breathing exercises out there with this being one of the most recognised: To the count of ten, inhale deeply through your nose. Hold your breath for ten and exhale through your nose to another count of ten. It takes practise but breathing regulates your heart rate and takes you away from the trigger of fight or flight when all hell breaks loose.
Our lives are busy. They’re loud and distracting. We rush through our days forgetting to be mindful and take note of what’s around us. To help you stay grounded, tune in to what is around you. Birdsong, burnt toast, juicy strawberries, the breeze on your back. Use your senses to experience the world. When life gets complicated, pause, and turn your senses up and focus on two things. Maybe a smell, or a sound, or the way the rug feels on your toes.
With all of this busyness in our lives we lose a certain level of focus and give only half of our attention to what is crying out for our care. Listen carefully, watch, be in the moment and concentrate. When we divide our attention, we are pulling ourselves apart unnecessarily. I don’t know about you, but I can’t be in two places at once, as much as I’ve tried! By focusing your attention you are choosing what is important to you at that moment and that is an crucial aspect of being centred.
Why It Works
When we are grounded we are learning and focusing on skills which we can come back to at a later stage when everything gets a little too hard and we are pushed off balance. When we aim for being balanced, we may struggle to pick everything up and get back to where we were. When we choose to be grounded, we dust ourselves off and decide what needs to be picked up and what can wait until later. We give ourselves permission to look after our mind and bodies and recognise that we can not and do not need to do it all.