Spoiler alert: I actually think balance is bullsh!t (in the modern sense at least).
There's a pervasive belief today that balance is the place where you're able to do all the things equally and well. Where you get a "good" workout in every day, have a weekly prep day, sleep 8+ hours every night, are a Pinterest-worthy Mom, make homemade treats to bring into the classroom and volunteer for the school auction, have a passionate marriage / partnership / relationship, do weekly nights out with friends and where your to-do list is completed daily. It's perfectionism on over-drive. And the result? Instead of feeling any sense of balance, we feel the opposite - like we're failures, inconsistent in action, swinging between momentum + being stuck.
Know this: the reason why you can't "find (and even maintain) balance" in this way isn't because you're doing all the wrong things or not enough. It's not because you don't have enough or need more time. It's because balance isn't a "place" we get to and stay at, as we've been led to believe and it's certainly not a point where "everything is in order".
Instead, balance is constantly changing and evolving, just like you are.
And what makes you feel "balanced" will change (and needs to change) based on where you're at in your menstrual cycle, what macro / micro hormone season of life you're in (Reproductive Years, Perimenopause, Menopause + Post / pregnancy, postpartum, big transition points in your life, etc.) and what's going on for you in the present - spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally.
In its true essence, balance is a sense of feeling grounded within oneself. It's feeling at home in your body, at peace and content in your life. It also possesses a feeling of aliveness + freedom as you live fully expressed.
One analogy I love for understanding how balance is constantly changing, yet remains within the container of consistency is the sun. Every year and within every day, the sun moves through the same cycle of light + dark (in the Northern Hemisphere):
Every Spring Equinox (which we just had), the day + night are equal length of light + dark (12 hours each).
From Spring Equinox on, the light is gaining every day (outweighing the amount of darkness), until it reaches its peak at the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year with almost 15 hours of daylight + 9 hours of darkness.
From Summer Solstice on, the light is waning until it again reaches an equal amount of light + dark on the Fall Equinox.
It's from Fall Equinox on that the darkness begins to outweigh the amount of daylight, until reaching its peak at the Winter Solstice - the darkest night, where we have almost 15 hours of darkness and only 9 hours of light.
From Winter Solstice on, the darkness begins to give way to the light as we move again towards equal amounts daylight + night on the Spring Equinox.
Within this yearly cycle the sun makes, there is also the daily, consistent 24 hour cycle of the sun rising + setting. This container doesn't change, even though the amount of light / dark within it does. The moon also makes a similar ascent + descent into growing light, peaking and then waning towards dark through her continuous 29.5 day cycle.
This is a beautiful model for seeking "balance" in our own lives as well.
The 24 hour, consistent cycle of the sun represents our own need to engage in daily rituals and practices of caring for ourselves on all levels - spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally and mentally.
But how we do it, can and needs to change - which is illustrated by the way the sun dances between the time he spends in light + dark throughout the year.
Light represents action, darkness represents being. Light is known as a yang + masculine energy - one of structure; darkness as the yin + feminine energy - one of fluidity. Light is embodied by the energies of Spring + Summer - a time of creation / creativity, beginning + culmination. Darkness is embodied by the energies of Fall + Winter - a time of winding down, harvest + preparation (details) and endings.
In our own lives, we find balance through consistent structure, but fluid (changing) rituals + practices.
Here are some examples:
Structure: A morning connection practice.
During the inner Spring + Summer of your menstrual cycle, you do a HIIT workout followed by some breathing. During your late inner Fall or Winter, you do a mobility flow followed by some breath work + journaling.
During periods of low-stress, you grab a cup of tea + cozy blanket, sit in silence and/or doing some breathing + stretching, whereas during a work launch or time where your child is going through a transition that disrupts their + your sleep (aka period of higher stress), you sleep an extra 30 minutes, but leave time to add 5 minutes to your shower where you put on a face mask, do some breath work and end with 30 seconds of cold water. Then, post-shower you do a Gratitude Massage with a luxurious body butter.
Structure: Setting up work with periods of rest.
During your inner Spring + Summer or periods of low-stress, if you work from home, you take breaks every 50 minutes for 10 minutes and do little tasks around the house - cutting vegetables for dinner + put some meat in the Instant Pot, start some laundry, pickup the house. Or maybe you go for a walk or do some mobility flows on your break.
In your inner Fall + Winter or periods of high-stress, you set up your work space with a cozy blanket, candles + a hot water bottle to hold on your lap. You take 20 min breaks for every hour you work and stretch, make yourself some tea, do some breath work, lay down and rest or go sit outside in the sun (it's most beneficial to engage in activities that complete the stress cycle throughout the day).
Balance isn't a place where you need to do all the things or where everything is "perfect", but rather where the things you do serves how you want to feel and what you need + desire. I also want to be clear that balance is never found by constantly pushing or doing (in life, relationships, work or workouts), as shown us by the sun and moon's cycles.
Within this model of balance - one that has both structure and fluidity, you're able to flex with life's challenges + uncontrollables, while maintaining your sense of ease + energy through grounded rituals.
Get super clear on how you desire - for example: light, energized, calm, renewed and joyful.
Brainstorm all the ways that make you feel this way (these are the rituals).
Then get creative around how you want to integrate these things into your days/weeks. Give them designated space (this is the structure).
Ideally, you have multiple options for the rituals within the structure. For example, you know that a morning connection practice (this is the structure) sets the tone of your day to feel connected. But how you feel connected may come in the form of: breath work, a workout or some form of movement, being outside, watching the sunrise, sitting with a hot cup of tea/coffee in stillness, reading, praying, meditating, journaling, etc (these are the various rituals you can choose from).
BONUS: try to make each ritual feel as juicy, luxurious, pleasurable and sacred as possible.
Balance sought as a flexible and ever-changing dance, attuned to what you truly need on all levels (versus what you think you ”should” be doing) makes it a feeling you can experience on a consistent basis, versus a fleeting or unachievable place. It allows for more grace and for life to happen, without putting you into phases where self-care falls to the wayside, as does your whole-being health + happiness. We just need to let go of the idea that we’re going to “get there”, and rather cultivate the structure + rituals that move and grow with our needs + desires, in all seasons.
Give these tips and ideas a try and let me know how it goes / feels in the comments below! Need help? Use my contact form to reach out or send me an email (hello @ whitneymack . com).
Free gift: In a Winter NourishYou Retreat a few years ago, I did a workshop on balance being bullish!t. Check it out here.