Definition of balance: stability produced by an even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis when the two sides of the scale are in balance.
Oftentimes, in physiotherapy, we will up train clients’ balance after injury- aiming to teach them better control over their bodies and evenly weight bearing between both their legs (or arms!). The idea of balance is to remain upright and steady. In control and constantly striving for that perfect equilibrium.
Last week, I was working with a patient who was struggling with the balance exercise I had prescribed her. She was getting super frustrated and exhausted with her lack of ability to maintain her balance. She looked to be really focused so I asked her what she was thinking about. She replied: “I am squeezing my inner thighs, keeping my torso rigid and tall, tightening my bum muscles, looking at my feet in the mirror and trying not to move .” Holy smokes she was thinking ALL THE THINGS. So I told her to wiggle it out, not to think about anything, just relax and try again. Guess what? She didn’t lose her balance, had a smile on her face and it looked 10X easier than previous attempts. Sure, she had a few wobbles but she maintained her balance.
So I asked her how it felt and she responded “Wow, that felt way easier- I don’t know why I was trying so hard.” The less she tried to control it, the less exhausted and more balanced she was. In previous attempts, she would get her balance for a fleeting moment only to lose it 2 nanoseconds later and return to frustration and disappointment.
Hmm… how is that for a metaphor? Brooke McAlaray talks about the concept of “wobbly balance” in her book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World and I think it is bang on.
I (and I imagine many of you do too!) get bombarded with messages daily about work-life balance and, to be honest, I think it is just setting us up for failure. Do you know how hard it is to balance perfectly still all the time? Aiming for perfection is a losing battle so I choose wobbly balance instead. Sure, I will tilt, shift my weight, feel like I may fall but in the long game I know I won’t be knocked to the ground.
“Not everything deserves the same weight, they deserve the correct weight.”
I can’t prepare home cooked meals, do an hour workout, put in a full 8-hours at work, volunteer in the community, drink 3 litres of water, keep in touch with my friends and family, journal, meditate and turn my phone off 2-hours before bed every single day. That just isn’t going to happen, and if I were to set it as my expectation, then I would go through each day feeling frantic and adrenaline filled. I would lay in bed each night feeling a total sense of failure. Balance is not a daily act because not everything needs our attention every single day. I think we have to play the long game.
Not everything in life deserves the same weight at the same time. For me, this has been a season of business growth. I have had to put a massive amount of time into building my business and my brand. I’ve worked most nights and every weekend. I’ve sacrificed sleep and a workout on a super irregular schedule. I’ve purchased meals and haven’t written a blog post since April! Oops! Wobbly balance! I’ve put my attention where it was needed and in service of my why (starting my mentoring program, opening up my new clinic location, onboarding new staff and prepping the release of an online course) but I am sure the pendulum will swing and I will divert my attention elsewhere when it is time and necessary. Sure, I have still made time for all the other things (workouts, cooking, sleep, family and friends) but it just isn’t “in balance” and is less than the world tells me it “should be.” My inbox need not be at 0, my day continues on if I don’t meditate and yes, the laundry can wait another day or two.
What’s your version of wobbly balance? Maybe you are in a season of growth as well. Maybe summer is your season of rest and rejuvenation. Perhaps you are in a total shit storm. Either way, know it is a tilt and something else will come your way to shift the focus, your energy and priorities. And you know what? That is ok. Wobbly balance is flexible, efficient and relaxed and yes, it is still balance folks.
About Emma Jack
Emma is a sport and orthopaedic physiotherapist and own her own practice Press Play Physiotherapy and Pilates in London, Ontario, Canada. She holds both a Masters in Physiotherapy and Masters of Clinical Science in Manual Physical Therapy. She earned a Sport Physiotherapy Diploma, is a Fellow of the Academy of Manual and Manipulative Physical Therapy and is a lead therapist with the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team. She is also a Co-Active coach and is fuelled by helping other health care providers and professionals on their journey to personal and professional success! Find out more about Emma on her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.