Most of us have heard the phrase, “Keep everything in moderation,” or some close variant of that. One of my favorite examples in science where we see this phrase ring true is in toxicology. Studies will look to see how much a chemical (or drug) is needed to produce a good desirable effect and compare that with how much is considered toxic to at least 50% or more individuals. What is found is almost everything in existence (if not absolutely everything) is toxic to us after some point – even water or oxygen. This leads to a second phrase most of us have heard, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” This states the same thing, really, as with keeping things in moderation. For so many of us, we live an imbalanced life where we pursue too much of certain things (even good things!) to the detriment of other good things we need.
Here are some examples of how we can see imbalance in our lives:
- You love your job and it doesn’t even feel like work – and so you spend a lot of time in it. Yet, there is now not enough time for important things in your life like your relationships, taking care of your body, getting fresh air being out in nature, or helping serve the needs of your neighbor/community.
- You have too little stress in your life and though you have lots of time to care for your health and to your hobbies, there’s a satisfaction in work/volunteering/serving others that’s missing.
- You have lots of quality time with your friends and family and enjoy it, but leave little time for yourself to just be alone, to reflect, or to recharge.
- You love to help others and volunteer, and look out for the needs of your friends and family. It feels like you’re living out your purpose to the fullest, and yet you are physically falling apart and cannot keep up.
- You give yourself plenty of time and focus towards self-care and meditation, but are too little engaged with others, perhaps being more isolated.
- You exercise a lot, but are not giving your body time to adequately recover and rebuild.
- You save your money, but have a hard time spending/using it for things, which deprives yourself of opportunities.
- You spend your money, but have a hard time saving/investing it, which causes stress or anxiety.
Another less common, but quick and effective technique that can be used is acupressure – the technique of applying pressure to key points of the body – can greatly help to cool the body down. Applying pressure to these key parts of your body (see images below) can help to ease irritability and eliminate heat withinThe list can go on and on – but you might have noticed that some of these were exact opposites of each other, and all had “good” things contained, but not in a balanced way. It can be easy to look at other’s lives and spot what’s not in balance and where they ought to spend more or less energy/focus in. However, we can be blind to our own lives. I think a tempting belief is to think, “Well, I enjoy a, b, and c, so if I just focus my time and energy on those things (and not also x, y, and z), I will be satisfied and have overall wellbeing and happiness, right?” As an example, if I spent most of my energy on the job I love, reading good books, and spending time with my kids, would I be well and have a sustainable way of life and be my best? Or could I actually better live out those things when I put attention to what’s being neglected too? I’ll let you ponder and answer that for yourself.
One simple exercise to take a general look at your life and assess balance/satisfaction can be found on the website for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:
After doing this exercise, what might be your next step to a more balanced life?
To you health and well-being,
Lead Health Coach, Dan Tribley
EPIC Functional Medicine