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March 19th, 2014

Achieving Balance

By Addie K Martin

* Addie K Martin is a lifestyle and food culture writer based in New Orleans, LA.  She has an extensive marketing and hospitality background and brings a fresh, new perspective to Empowered Wealth’s concepts and ideas.

Recently, I wrote about the concept of Empowered Wealth and the tenets at the heart of it Brower Quadrant. Of all the things I wrote about in that article and of all the things I got out of reading The Next Step e-book, redefining my concept of balance has been the biggest breakthrough for me.

In that book, I learned that balance was not some state that can be achieved. It’s not like I can just get to where my life is balanced, put it on cruise control and keep moving. While that does appeal to a certain part of my brain, that’s just not reality. What I learned is that balance is a dynamic thing. In order to remain in a state of balance, one must constantly be reassessing and shifting and maintaining that state of equilibrium.

What I learned is that balance is not a “set it and forget it” thing.

And honestly, Addie-K-Martin-Balance-Rock-Arches-National-Parkif I look at the cruise control analogy I put forth, it is slightly flawed. One of the most important aspects of cruise control is that when used, the driver still needs to pay attention to the road. The driver must still change lanes as needed, hit the brakes when called for, and still do all the steering for the car. Cruise control merely maintains the speed. The driver must still be present, aware and constantly making adjustments. To me, that’s a more balanced and nuanced way of looking at the cruise control analogy.

In my life, one of the quickest ways for me to get off-balance is overusing social media. Most of the time I’m able to use it in moderation. From time to time I’ll slip and overuse. While the loss of balance typically creeps in slowly, when it hits full-force, I can’t ignore it. The lack of balance becomes highly apparent and a correction is then needed.

A good example of this happened to me recently. Over the course of a two day period, my social media consumption was through the roof. I probably spent 2-3 hours on social media in a 24 hour period. This is much higher than my normal consumption. To top this, it was during a tumultuous time on social media. Several local and national crises were the talk of the internet, and I got sucked in. While I could feel some stress building, I couldn’t walk away. While I didn’t participate much in the craziness, I felt compelled to keep going back and checking. I was watching my feed refresh like a fiend.

Finally, on the second day’s afternoon I realized that my brain was spent. I had to get off social media. I couldn’t even muster the energy and focus to finish my workday. I know that I did it to myself. It was a rough time, but in the end, I became aware and realized that I was out of balance. It finally dawned on me that what I needed was not only a break from social media really but also an adjustment in the balance of my life. Something wasn’t quite right, and it was causing problems throughout my whole mental system.

My solution to find balance in this case? A social media detox. This is quite an effective tactic for me that I’ve used several before. I typically tackle it by taking a weekend off of social media. Honestly, that 48 to 60 hours makes a considerable difference in the quality of my mental state. It really helps to clear the mind clutter and also frees much needed time. I’ve realized that I need to take these sabbaticals on a monthly basis. Having done them before, I realize how helpful they are, and I am now going to make these detoxes a regular part of my life. I’ve finally realized and internalized that I eventually become over-stimulated with too much social media. I get to the point where the inflow of other people’s words, voices, etc is draining, especially when it’s negative, snarky or related to politics or the news.

The weekend of my social media detox was all about taking care of myself by recharging and regrouping. I used the time to relax and unwind. My husband and I took walks around our neighborhood. We spent time with friends just catching up and taking it easy. I took the opportunity to be more present in my life – to live in each moment and enjoy what was right there in front of me, not on a screen in front of me. At the end of the weekend, I felt recharged, refreshed and rejuvenated, just as I thought I would. It was a special weekend in which nothing in particular happened at all – just the way I like it.

What about you? Do you struggle with feeling a sense of balance in life? Are you like me – do you find social media to be contributing factor to lack of balance?   

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