This blog post is not about my lack of physical balance. To clarify, I am addressing the balance between work, family, and self-care. It’s something we all struggle with at times. It’s been a six month struggle for me — since November 2021, I’ve had new opportunities and responsibilities open up which resulted in a shift from Editing at Coffee House Writers as an unpaid intern to becoming the Editor then Editorial manager for Write On LLC and their publishing company, Shooting Stars Publishing. The whole process has been filled with excitement, but it requires a lot of time and effort. I pushed myself hard to learn my role quickly and get the work done that was assigned to me.
I am, by nature, an attention-to-detail person. That means that when I am working on a project, I am able to focus intently, to the point that I shut everything out. That’s great for a few hours, but 10-14 hours per day was too much. I neglected exercising, rest, and sleep. That would be trying for someone who is able-bodied, but I live with Cerebral Palsy. I use 5-8 times more energy to do anything, plus I don’t have the same energy level stores as most people. This combination takes its toll, and it was only a matter of time before my life went off on an wobble.
How? The chronic pain I live with, every second of every minute of every day of every year, escalated to a 9/10 on the pain scale, and stayed there. My right ankle and foot began to swell. I ignored it and kept working… until I couldn’t anymore and had to retreat to my bed and use the adjustable bed frame to elevate my legs high so that they were above my heart.
I’m not going to candy coat how devastating this was and is. I must lay in that position for 90 minutes every day. I have to get up and walk with my walker every twenty minutes, and I have to ice my knees twice a day. Adding insult to injury, I can no longer sit for long periods of time. I am a writer and an editor… so how does that work?
It would be great to have all the answers, but I am only human. I’ve learned a few things, that’s for certain, and I am also reconfiguring my time to put God first again. I don’t know when I stopped doing that, but it’s vital to my spiritual well-being which trickles down into my physical well-being.
The short answer to that last question is, I tune in and listen to my body. I work in blocks of time no greater than two hours without resting or icing. On days where my fatigue level is so high I can’t concentrate or the pain level ramps up to the degree that every position is agony, I give myself permission to switch to self-care mode and put work off until the next day.
Can you relate? If so, what are the things you do to balance your days? Does your work week look different than your weekend? Are you remembering to book in the necessary time for self-care?
While you ponder the answers to those questions, I will list 5 things that I’ve learned to do to help keep my life as balanced as possible. It’s my prayer that you find them helpful as well.
- Schedule everything you can. That includes family and personal/self-care time. I use the calendar on my computer and phone. Journals and daytimers work well too.
- Update your schedule daily according to how you’re feeling and the things life throws in unexpectedly.
- Listen to your body. Are you tired or in pain; overwhelmed by emotions or grieving a loss? Try not to stuff those things down or ignore them, because it could cause an emotional shut down.
- Give yourself permission to rest. Rest can mean a nap, or it could mean a bubble bath, reading a book, watching a movie, or going for a walk in nature, etc.
- Once your battery is recharged, you will have the energy you need to give to your family (spouse and kids) or your parents (different roles depending on what stage of life you are in).