How to Balance to Avoid Burn Out

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” -Thomas Merton, theologian

I recently changed up my morning routine and now start each day with Pilates. Deep breath in, roll through my spine, exhale. My mind is cleared, my body stretched, and my soul rejuvenated. This new routine unites my physical, mental, and spiritual health—balanced and ready to take on the day.

But at the end of the day, during my evening reflection, I often find myself feeling discouraged by the imbalance. Too much screen time. All of my energy focused on work, not family. Feeling empty because I fed my body and spirit all the wrong way.

Only Looking In

Each day, our minds and bodies and spirits take in the world around us. We consume a variety of foods, media, and opinions. Our tasks and all-consuming to-do lists invite some degree of light into our lives, either nourishing or diminishing our souls.

It’s easy to ignore the need for connection and focus solely inward. My grades. My career. My social media status. Busy lives distract us from better balancing the selfless decision of reaching out. But only looking in and devoting our entire attention to self leaves us feeling quite unfulfilled.

Self-care is still a vital part of nourishing our souls, but when we tip the scales and dedicate all of our time to me, me, me…we are left feeling empty.

Burn Out

Emptiness can come from too much output as well. I like to think of my soul and energy reserves as a bank account. If all I do with my energy is give, give, give and don’t allow time to take in others’ positive light, I’m left with nothing. Suddenly I’m stretched too thin and draining my account dry.

Helping others and finding regular service opportunities is a wonderful way to nourish your spirit. But balance is key. Burn out is very real and can be damaging, causing resentment and selfishness—the very opposite of your intended desire to love and serve. 

The Effects of Equilibrium

So, what’s the answer? How do we evaluate and undertake balancing our lives? Let’s take a second and assess through color-coding:

  • Blue: Activities that bring peace and solace to your mind
  • Red: Active parts of your day that strengthen your body
  • Green: Outside time, finding a connection with nature
  • Yellow: Moments of service and sharing your light with others
  • Purple: Quiet time connecting with Deity (prayer, meditation, etc)
  • Black: Time wasting habits or “fluff” that fill your day

Think about your day and contemplate what color(s) stand out. Write down and color code your daily to-dos. The goal here is to create equilibrium. Dictionary.com describes equilibrium as “a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.” Another explanation of this word is “equality of effect.”

Once we’ve identified the colors that dominate our day, let’s reflect. Do the events of my day help me reach my goals? What do these colors say about what I value—and is it balanced? We are each unique and place different emphasis on what we value. And that’s ok. Only you can determine what balance looks life for your life.