Striving for Balance

Striving for Ballance

Ellen Harris, GMS - Content Manager at Living Abroad LLC

Now that school is back in session for what will be an unprecedented 2020 school year, what can we all do to keep an even keel? With so much uncertainty in the outside world, maintaining inner equilibrium is more challenging – and more important – than ever.

Here are some ways to stay balanced:
Take in the Arts, in whatever form you can find them.

When COVID-19 first caused shutdowns around the world, the theater world went dark. New York City’s Broadway closed on March 12, with London’s West End following suit just four days later. Concerts were cancelled or postponed into 2021. All manner of performing arts venues, large and small, fell victim to virus restrictions.

Slowly, creativity and innovation picked up where health knowledge left off, and performers are finding ways to perform. At first it was Zoom sessions, like the moving, rousing Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra socially distanced version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The cast of Hamilton surprised a young girl who missed the chance to see the musical with a personal rendition of the title song on John Krazinski’s “Some Good News” (SGN).

Small outdoor and some indoor gatherings are now possible in many areas. Artists and promoters are finding creative solutions that allow for safe participation in live events. Not only is live performance a restorative diversion, attendance helps support local organizations and often area restaurants. Look for listings in your area for shows you feel comfortable attending.

Stay Connected
Playing trivia or online games like Codenames , ScrabbleSkribbl.io, and others bring families and friends together for fun. Sharing photos and videos via a shared platform, text, or email are other ways to involve far-flung people in your life. Since most people have fewer commitments outside the home, finding common time to schedule a group Zoom call tends to be easier than in pre-pandemic times.

These opportunities for connection are especially important for older people who may be experiencing a higher degree of isolation due to health risk factors.

Make the most of Down Time
With fewer events to attend and our normal slate of scheduled activities curtailed, you may find more time on your hands. Even the lack of professional sports left fans with nothing to follow or watch on television for months. People have found new appreciation for simple pursuits like puzzles, crosswords, and reading a physical book rather than on yet another screen. Activities like these can quiet the mind and help unplug from the bombardment of news and current events.

My grown son, who moved out of New York City in March and has been living with us, completed two large puzzles with me over the summer. Working on the puzzles with him was an experience I treasure, and peering closely at pieces of beautiful, colorful images was a calming treat for the eyes and mind.

Keep up with Recreation and Fresh Air
Hopefully the climate where you live right now is conducive to being outside. When coronavirus first took hold in early 2020, we in the Northern Hemisphere were coming out of winter and into spring. How welcome it was to experience lengthening days and warmer temperatures, which coaxed us outside and gave us an escape from lockdown. Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it also marks a reversal of those trends. Days will shorten and temperatures dip to refreshing levels and beyond.

Find ways to continue enjoying the outdoors, whether exercising or taking part in socially distanced group activities. Even regular walking yields tremendous benefits. This may be the year to take up a new winter sport.

The number and variety of online fitness options have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Many are free. Virtual classes for every level of fitness are available, for all ages in the family. So, on those days when you’re unable to get outside, it is still possible to boost your heart rate, build strength, or just get a good stretch in the comfort of your own home.

Practice Mindfulness and Self-Care
While these buzzwords have been everywhere recently, the pandemic magnifies their benefits for anyone who feels anxious or overwhelmed. Whatever form a mindfulness practice may take for an individual, focusing on intention, attention, and attitude can bring calm and peace.
Yoga, meditation, prayer, and other soothing practices rebalance a frazzled psyche. There are many apps to guide and assist, providing reminders and structure through a session. Even smart watches feature short relaxation exercises, providing soothing colors, graphics, and breathing prompts.

In times of change and uncertainty, self-care can mean taking control by making choices that promote your well-being. Encouraging the young people in your life to do the same helps them build tools for resilience and stamina that will last a lifetime.