Self Improvement

That Balance Thing

Last September, I wrote a post about overdoing it. About my search for balance–something I spent a lot of time chasing. Turns out I was searching for something I didn’t know how to find and eventually learned that if I just took a few breaths and gave myself a break, I’d feel good enough to stop searching…

Here’s how it all started.

When you’re running a startup, it takes time before you’re making enough to actually pay yourself, so we had full-time jobs on top of running the site. I worked round-the-clock and barely slept. I also blogged every single day that first year. I felt like I had to do it all and giving myself a break wasn’t an option even though it should have been my priority. And for whatever reason, I felt the need to post everything that was going on to social media. I was always “checking in” and as a result, felt more and more disconnected from everything.

It would have been impossible to run a website and work with 5-8 design clients at a time and write a blog post every day and not burn out unless you’re some sort of magician. Which I am not. So I crashed and burned. Hard. I’d wake up every morning exhausted from being on the computer until 2am. Constant headaches. Always tired. After I got shingles (stress related, of course), my doctor told me I had three options. 1. Change my life. 2. Go on medication. 3. Continue to get sick.

And here’s what I did.

1. Morning walks on the lake with the pup and Bon Iver
This was a small shift to the start of my day. That turned into taking a break to work out late morning (this is relatively new and has been so good for me).

2. Take a break
I have found that giving myself space to walk away for a little helps a lot. This doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want whenever I want, but that little break calms me down. A walk with the pup, running a quick errand (if I’m being honest I don’t do this very often but really enjoy it when I do), or grabbing some coffee gives me a mental break from the day. This is especially helpful when I’m working on eleven things at once.

3. Changing my workouts
It took a lot of time to get here, but earlier this year, I made the decision to walk away from CrossFit. I wanted to do something more calming, spend less money, and feeling sore just didn’t seem worth it anymore. It wasn’t easy to admit, but CrossFit just wasn’t working for me. I reached a peak with how much I was able to lift, and decided I didn’t want to lift anymore. It’s still the most fun I had working out and I do miss it, but now that I’m one of those people who actually likes exercise (thanks to CrossFit), I’ve found some other options likeflywheel, flybarre, and new to me, classpass, and it’s been great.

4. Sleep
Starting earlier this year, I stopped staying on the computer until midnight and stopped going to bed at 2am. I think steps 1-3 helped me get there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t late nights on the computer, but it’s not every night. And I start my day earlier, which means I get more done. I now fall asleep between 11-12 (something I haven’t done in my entire adult life) and am up between 7-7:30. I’m not exactly sure what shifted, but I think it was a series of little changes that got me here, and it feels pretty good.

5. Step away from the phone (and inbox)
I always felt the need to answer emails the second they came in. I am definitely timely, but I’m also ok waiting until the following day if it means not taking something else on (if I’m in the middle of enough that it’ll make me feel overwhelmed). I also used to be glued to my cell phone and definitely spend a lot less time on it these days. I try not to answer email from my phone if I can, no longer check in on Facebook, and never post an instagram in the moment if I’m with someone. I’d rather enjoy time with whoever I’m with and post later.

To those of you dealing with anxiety. Comparing your start-up or job you don’t love to others. Trying to grow a small business. Feeling pressure to do it all and to be the best. No one is better than anyone else. We’re just in different stages–some are just starting out and others have been in the game a while. Know that no matter how great someone’s job might seem, it’s not perfect. It’s ok to give yourself a break. One fewer post can go up. You don’t have to instagram everything. Don’t have your phone be the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you see at night. Unplug. Read a book. Listen to music. Walk your dog. If you don’t have a dog, consider getting one because they’re the greatest. Call someone you care about.

Take a moment to disconnected and you just might find yourself feeling more connected. And then there’s that balance we’re all searching for. I can’t tell you my life is perfect because it’s not close, but I feel happier, more calm, and more “balanced” than ever before.

Do you feel balanced? If so, how do you find balance when things feel crazy? And if not, what’s something you’re struggling with?

image from my home tour on the everygirl

Leave a comment
  • As someone who often looks at your career and Alaina’s career as being the perfect job, I really appreciated this post. There’s always more behind the scenes, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that – thank you for sharing it with us. As far as balance goes, I think vinyasa yoga helps (you should give it a try if you haven’t) and finding time for more relaxing hobbies (I usually reward myself with an hour of knitting). But I too definitely struggle with social media and being connected to my phone, especially Instagram. It’s hard to disconnect because you sort of, well, have to be connected since you’re trying to build a platform. But it can be incredibly time consuming, and it’s easy to over-connect.

  • I too was chasing balance for awhile. For me it look learning to say no and protecting my non-negotiables (time with my loved ones, sleep, downtime, good meals, workouts). Once I did that, everything seemed to fall into place! The main thing I’ve learned is that life comes in season- sometimes a season of hustling is necessary, but it needs be be followed up by a season of rest. I’m glad you found what works for you as well!

  • Interesting and good changes. A walk or a run in the morning is always refreshing. The most difficult part is the one with leaving the phone and the inbox away. Now that they’re on the same device, it seems impossible to leave it behind.