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Recovery blog

Balancing Act

By: Erin Birely, LCPC, Alumni Services Coordinator and Team Leader of the Renfrew Center of Baltimore

Posted on March 29, 2021

Blog Header Image 3.29.2021Balance is something we all strive for in life. Balance in life and work, in having fun and fulfilling responsibilities, in our finances, and in recovery as well. The thing I find hardest about balance, though, is it is never a steady state.

When you think of a tight rope walker on a rope, they are never completely still; instead, there are tiny movements, this way, and that, to help them remain balanced. So when I think about it, I realize in order to remain balanced, there will inherently need to be times I am not fully balanced.

Feeling unsteady, or not balanced, is not a comfortable emotion for most of us. I often find myself thinking, "What if I fall," or "What if something bad happens," and often go to "What if I never feel balanced again?!" It is through tolerating that discomfort of unbalance that I know I will be able to see balance when I zoom out and look at the big picture.

This past year has been a good lesson in tolerating feeling unbalanced in the moment, but being able to look back and see a lot of overall balance. While I felt very unsteady when virtual treatment started last year, I'm now feeling very comfortable, and in some instances finding it more useful than traditional in-person! So while I know how hard it can be to tolerate things feeling unsteady and unbalanced, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me tolerate those feelings while in the moment:
  • Take some deep breaths: When I think of being a kid and trying to walk across a log in a stream, I remember breathing quickly was usually part of the reason I fell off! But when I steadied my breathing and focused on adjusting to the changes that needed to happen, I was much more likely to make it across.

  • Focus on the present: If I think about how long the feeling of imbalance will last, I'm likely to fall into a thinking trap of catastrophizing. Instead, I try to think about just what needs to be done now. If I can take things one at a time, I can adjust as needed for each task.

  • Don't be too rigid: The times I've tried super-duper hard to be balanced and tensed up are, again, the times I've fallen. Rigidity doesn't allow for movement and adjustment and leads to falls. Try instead to allow yourself the flexibility to move while you're working, trying not to go too off track, but also not feeling like you can't move at all.

  • Look back: I find it helpful to think of other times I've struggled with feeling of imbalance and how they have turned out. While not all have turned out how I've wanted, I've survived each one, and that strengthens my belief in my ability to tolerate the next time I'm feeling that way.
Remember as you work for balance, it will not be a destination, but instead a way of continually adjusting to the circumstances life has thrown at us. And one thing we can all agree on is this past year gave us some great practice in this area!
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Comments: 1
Debbie Dutton 19 days ago

So true and very helpful! Thank you!