Are You Living a Balanced Life?

SWEEPS, An Assessment for a Life in Balance

We have all heard the doctor say we need to live a balanced life but what does this mean? And is it even possible during the COVID-19 lock-down? Women at work have been working extra hours, at home and at the home-office. Our routines have been thrown for a loop. And the stress continues to mount.

SWEEPS, is a quick way for you to judge if your life is in balance, or easily know what you are missing. This acronym stands for: Sleep, Work, Eating, Exercise, Play, and Spirituality. If you are only willing to look at one aspect of this acronym sleep is the most important.

For most adults, 7-8 hours a night is the recommended amount of sleep we need to feel our best. If nothing else on the SWEEPS list is addressed, this is the most important. Sleep can be improved by making sure you are going to sleep and waking up at around the same time every day, weekends included. The room should be dark and cool, with all devices like phones, television and tables turned off. Creating a bedtime routine like reading, or taking a warm bath can often help to signal the body that it is time to sleep.

Work also follows the same schedule, 8 hours of work a day is the maximum amount that should be allocated in a day. However, research has shown that the most productive workers, take frequent breaks during the day, specifically 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work. This allows the brain to rejuvenate and prepare for the next work period. Depending on your job and your role at work, this might be unrealistic. Still, the key is to allocate some portion of your day to taking breaks.

Exercise is important at every age. We have bodies that are made to move. The most important thing about exercise is that you find something you enjoy doing. This will make it easier to continue to do it. We should be doing some form of exercise at least 5 days a week from walking to yoga. The internet offers an endless choice of free exercise classes for all ages and shapes. Ideally at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week will make our bodies happy, and exercise is also a natural antidepressant.

Eating is also an important part of living a balanced life. Our amount of energy is directly correlated to what we put in our mouths. If every meal is fast food, you might want to reconsider giving yourself enough time at home to make some healthier food. Although these days every fast food chain does have something healthy to offer. It used to be thought that 3 square meals a day was the correct way to eat. We now know we are better off with smaller amounts of food, more often. Usually, 5-6 smaller bites a day works better both for our energy level and our waistline. One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re eating healthy, is to eat the colors of the rainbow every day.
The last two are play and spirituality.

Play is anything you can lose yourself in and not want it to stop. It can be anything from going to watching a movie, playing with your kids or a musical instrument. It should be something that brings you joy.
Spirituality is different for everyone. Some women enjoy going to church or temple and others find spirituality in nature or meditation. Whatever it is, put some of it into your life.

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.” Helen Keller

By Barbara Barry

Barbara Allyn Barry is a Professional Clinical Trauma Therapist, owner of Wellness Based Therapy and frequent contributor to the Palm Springs Desert Sun Newspaper.

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