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Life After Loss - Growth out of

Finding Balance in Your Busy World

I met Frank on a crowded business flight.  As he lowered his  breathless, oversized body into the narrow seat, wiping perspiration  from his brow, he activated his smart phone with one hand while whisking  his laptop out of its case with the other.

Not yielding a second to take in his surroundings, get comfortable,  or relax, he hammered away on his laptop while making a rapid series of  phone calls until the flight attendant forced a reprieve.

Frank was a successful marketing executive.  But his health was in  shambles:  he was overweight, had high blood pressure, and suffered from  insomnia.  He had no close friends. His wife had left him.  His life  alternated from “bouncing-off-the-walls” busy to inert and apathetic.   He lived alone, eating mounds of ice cream, snack foods, and soda pop as  he decompressed in front of the television in an attempt to stave off  soaring stress levels and nagging loneliness.

Frank’s story illustrates the saying:  “We hurry; we worry; and we  bury.”  So many of us are hooked on busy, but are barren when it comes  to life’s most important priorities.  We get a lot done, but because  there is no balance, it’s doing us in—physically, emotionally, and  spiritually.

Overstimulation can lead to apathy and boredom. “When stimulation  comes at us from every side, we reach a point where we cannot respond  with much depth to anything.  Bombarded with so much that is exciting  and demands our attention, we tend to…shut down our attention to  everything.”[1]

The following three principles lay the foundation for achieving  balance while striving for personal, family, and professional success.   They are essential and achievable whether you are a busy traveling professional, harried housewife, or stressed student.

1. Take time for your physical health.  Nix  the mindset that you are too busy to take care of your health.  The  following are essential tools for managing multiple priorities and busy  schedules; they are not optional for busy people.

Nutrition:  Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol are stimulants that  rob the nervous system of real energy.  They lead to cravings, insomnia  and more fatigue.  High-fiber fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and  legumes provide nutrients and antioxidants that build brain and immune  health, energize the nervous system, and lower stress.  Restaurants,  airports, and grocery stores now provide more healthful, quick options  such as whole grain breads and pastas, delicious mixed green salads and  fruit plates, beans, fresh vegetables, trail mixes, and herbal teas.   Keep a water bottle with you to remind you to drink water frequently;  irritability and fatigue can mean you need water.

Exercise:  Exercise reduces anxiety and fatigue and increases  energy, both physical and mental.  It improves mental focus,  problem-solving, and mood.  A ten-minute walk can boost your mood for an  hour. When traveling, use your time waiting at the airport for walking.  After that long meeting or weary day of travel you can unwind and renew  your strength with a good walk or work out in the hotel exercise  facility!  At work, take the stairs. Use break time to take a spin  around the block and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Drink water and  eat fresh fruit instead of chugging soda and downing candy bars.

Rest:  Chronic lack of sleep swamps your system with stress  hormones; impairs blood sugar; inhibits learning; increases the risk for  disease and depression; and saps mental and physical energy.  Quality  deep sleep is linked to longer life, improved energy, mood, mental  function, and performance. It also lowers the risk for obesity,  diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and many  stress-related disorders. Caffeine, high fat and sugar foods, alcohol,  late-night eating, holding grudges, and lack of exercise all contribute  to poor sleep quality.  Slowing your evening pace signals your body and  brain that it is time to tone down, rest, and revitalize for a new day.

2. Take time for your mental and spiritual health.  Zoning  out in front of the TV or Internet for hours saps energy and increases  fatigue and tension.  Mentally refreshing diversions, though, are like  mini-vacations for the brain.  These include relaxing hobbies,  recreation, social time, learning new tasks, and volunteering.  In  addition, spiritual health is at the center of a balanced lifestyle.  It  is important to take time to submit our priorities to God; He wants us  to trust Him to guide us safely through life’s busy challenges.  Strengthen your spiritual life by connecting with God through prayer,  reading the Bible, and reading inspirational book.

3.  Pare down or you’ll wear down. When  we are crazy busy and about to snap, the inevitable result is  inefficiency, irritability, ill-health, and imbalance.  “There are many  good things to do; but sometimes doing “good things” can crowd out what  is “best.”  Focus on your most important priorities.

The Living Word

Jesus encouraged his work-worn disciples, “Come apart…to a quiet spot, and rest a while." For there were many coming and going and they could not get time even to eat.[2]

At creation, God knew that we would need special time for rest,  friendship, and time with Him, so He set aside a special day for that  purpose.[3] “Remember  the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…The seventh day is the Sabbath of the  LORD…In it you shall do no work…” Exodus 20: 8-10

God cares about your schedule—He wants you to rest physically,  mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  He invites you to enter into  His rest.

We all have multiple roles and responsibilities, including work,  spousal, parenting, personal, church, and community.  Each role can be  fulfilling and energizing when kept in balance.  Will you take that step  today that will build more balance, strength, confidence, and  perseverance into your life tomorrow?  A balanced life is shaped one day  at a time—but not by chance—but by choice!

[1] Winter R.  Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment.  InterVarsity Press, Downer’s Grove, IL.  2002, p. 37.

[2] Mark 6:31.

[3] Genesis 2:2-3.

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