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A Key to Lowering Depression and Anxiety

A Well Balanced Life

Living out of balance is living in extremes in any area of our lives. We try to manage our responsibilities, take care of ourselves, take care of others, reach our goals, manage changes, until we send ourselves to exhaustion and can’t even manage the minor things in our lives. There is hope, there is a way to not only make these changes and accomplish our goals but to live a more peaceful and less stressed life if we prioritize have balance in our daily lives.

There are six main areas we must keep in balance. These areas are Self, Responsibilities, Finances, Relationships, Emotions, and Spirituality. If any of these areas are out of balance, we will turn to coping mechanisms. But coping mechanisms only create more problems and increased need for change. We go through this viscous cycle until we are completely overwhelmed, stressed, and want to throw in the towel.

We first need to prioritize these areas. This doesn’t mean that we will dedicate most of our time to the top priority, but that it is the most important area of our lives and we will ensure to include time for it everyday.

Focusing on ourselves is the key to being able to balance all of the other areas. In order to be of use to others, we must make ourselves top priority. As previously mentioned, putting ourselves as first priority doesn’t mean that we need to spend the majority of our time each day on ourselves, but that we need to set ourselves up as top priority of each day. Depression and anxiety often come from being overly stressed. We must be proactive and plan each day to lessen the stress as much as possible. Stress reducers can include exercise, eating healthy foods, meditation, massage, yoga, spending time alone, taking a hot bath, reading, and relaxation techniques. Choose stress reducers and activities that interest you and include at least one each day. They will raise your endorphins, give you energy, improve your sleep patterns, assist in managing change and emotions, improve your body, mind, and moods. Begin viewing a healthy lifestyle as a means of managing your stress, preventing depression and anxiety everyday instead of something to procrastinate and dread. We also need to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or any other stimulants as much as possible. Avoiding these stimulants reduces the effect they have on our brains, emotions, and ultimately our moods. We need to learn to relax our minds as well as our bodies. Even if we are not physically active, our mind can continue to be stressed through worry, dread, fear, planning and reasoning. We should relax our minds each day through deep breathing, meditating, Yoga, guided imagery, and relaxation music.

The next area we need to balance is responsibilities. These include our careers, children, pets, homes, vehicles, and sometimes other family members. Some of us spend an exorbitant amount of time with our career. This excess of time in one area will reduce the other areas in our lives. This imbalance will cause us to be fatigued, change our moods, affect our relationships, and trigger our emotions which can lead to depression or anxiety. It may also lead us to coping mechanisms such as overeating, under eating, smoking, alcohol, drugs, or control issues. By turning to these coping mechanisms, we not only have to work on balancing our lives, but also on a symptom of the problem, coping mechanism. If we’re battling a problem or trying to change a habit and just can’t quite seem to conquer it, it is because we’re battling the wrong problem. We’re battling a coping mechanism instead of the root which is driving us to the coping mechanism, our balance. The habit is not the problem, it’s only the symptom. What really needs to change is the problem itself, which is living an unbalanced life. Or we may take one of these responsibilities to the extreme because that is where we get our self worth. Since our self worth doesn’t derive from what we do, but who we are, we never truly feel self worth and again turn to our coping mechanisms. Keeping these areas of our lives balanced, we will not only become a better parent or employee, but a better person. This may require us to say no to people, or confront a situation, or delegate tasks. If we’re not comfortable with these changes, remember that change is always uncomfortable. If we’re feeling uncomfortable, we’re on the right track to making a change.

The third area of balance is relationships. If we’re overly extreme, we can have someone in our life that is consuming all of our time and energy. Our needs and wants can never be met because our whole being revolves around the feelings and behavior of another person. If we’re at the other end of extreme with a relationship, we can completely neglect others in our lives and lack having a better relationship. Relationships of all types take time and effort to become fully beneficial. Prioritize the relationships that are most important and ensure that our relationships are not out of balance. We may need to adjust, spending more time with some and less time with others. Quality is always better than quantity.

The fourth area of focus is the area of finances. Being out of balance specifically in this area causes a great deal of stress which can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and other health problems. Focus on a budget of 75% of your income. If we’re earning $1000 per week, $150 is taken for taxes, place 5% in long term investing, and 5% in savings. We should base our spending on the actual amount of income which would be $750 per week. If we train ourselves to live in this manner, we will have long term investments and a savings account to fall back in case of emergencies or unexpected changes. We may not have all of the things that we desire at first, but we will have peace of mind which is priceless. We need to be able to live not only within, but below our means and be financially balanced.

The next area is that of emotions. We may make decisions, build relationships, determine our mood or run our entire lives based solely on our emotions. Or we may be at the opposite end of the spectrum and completely numb to emotions. Neither extreme is healthy. Emotions, good or bad, should not be taken to the extreme. It has been proven that even good emotions such as happiness and excitement, if taken too far to the extreme, can lead to depression as there is nowhere to go but down after an extended high. Strive to recognize our emotions and manage them to a reasonable level. Determine if the emotion is rational and if it is heightened or lowered from another source. Sometimes our emotions can be heightened because it is triggered from a past wound. Or we may already be under a high stress level when an event causes an emotion to rise higher than normal. Take the time to recognize if the emotion is rational, if it is at a reasonable level before taking action or making a decision. We may need to confront someone or resolve an issue, but wait until the emotion has come into balance prior to any confrontation. Ask for what we need instead of just complaining or being angry over a situation. The only difference between making decisions based on emotions or wisdom is timing. We also need to ensure we are letting our emotions out daily so they do not build up and irrationally release at an inappropriate time. If we have no one to release them to, journal them or send an email to ourselves.

Lastly, we need to keep our spirituality in balance. Being overly extreme in this area will cause frustration and anxiety as we will not be able to live up to the standards that we place on ourselves. If our spiritual lives are lacking, our minds will be craving fulfillment and increase anxiety and nervousness which can lead to depression. We should be fulfilling this area as part of our daily routine as well as attending services or other periodic events. This does not have to be time consuming. We can fulfill this area simultaneously with meditation or other items that we do for ourselves as stress reducers.

Keeping these areas of our lives in balance will not only lower anxiety and lessen depression but will lead to a more peaceful, content, and healthier life. We deserve to live our best lives and be the best people we can for ourselves as well as others. Our thoughts are the first step to making a change. When we begin thinking balanced, we will begin feeling balanced and ultimately begin to behave balanced and live a peaceful, content, well balanced life.