By Jennifer O'Leary
BALANCE: the ability to evenly distribute weight and hold the body upright and steady; when different elements are equal or in correct proportions; when one is adequately consuming a variety of foods from different food groups in the right amounts.
These are just some of the ways to define it, but for me, it’s about ensuring I maintain my essential mix of the physical, social, mental and emotional stimulation in my life.
Without it, I wouldn’t be the best version of myself and quite frankly, lately I have been unable to find this healthy mix, this balance that I crave. It seems like there isn’t enough time in the day. The balance appears to be tipped in the direction of work; the other essential elements of what makes me tick seems to be swept to the side.
What I do realise is that without the physical-sport, the mental and the emotional also suffer.
I also realise that my work will also suffer unless I make the time to look after my physical and mental well-being.
There are evenings I come home from school after training teams and find myself gobbling down the dinner that I quickly prepared, only to find my head stuck in the books once again. I go through the daily ritual of promising my husband, my dog and myself that only an hour will be spent on planning my lessons and marking various English essays, but before I even know it, the clock strikes 10pm and I am once again dragging my weary body away from my work desk to start the groundhog process all over again. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. But what about my beloved exercise?
It’s very common and easy to get stuck in this constant cycle of working and forgetting all of the things that you should be making time for. Life is short and it’s for living.
It’s time for me to have a good hard look at my past and learn from it. Many people asked me how I balanced all of my interests and responsibilities when I played with Cork. The answer is that I just don’t know anymore, but I’d like to get back into that mindframe of four years ago. I must tap into it and revisit what it was like because it definitely worked for me.
I had the energy and the motivation to work harder in other areas of my life and I felt like I was in perfect equilibrium, just like a balance.
So, instead of having new year’s resolutions that most people never keep, I’ve decided I am going to set myself some ground rules starting from Tuesday (Mondays are never a good day to start with as they are usually hard enough due to the day in question).
1. Prioritise exercise
Have at least three days a week where you will make a conscious effort to stay fit. Make it a mixture of individual and team sports to keep you motivated and keep you challenged. This can also include joining in with your students to complete the bleep test several times next week and in six weeks’ time!
2. Use your free periods in school wisely (time-management)
Instead of drinking in copious amounts of coffee with conversation, find a quiet area to get the majority of your work done. You can always talk over lunchtime and less caffeine is good for you!
3. Plan something to look forward to once a week
Whether it is the cinema, a nice dinner, a phone call home or a trip somewhere new, making time for friends or loved ones is always going to elevate your mood and give you more energy. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and the people closest to you in
life can provide this.
4. Replace TV and smartphone time with a good novel or an interesting article
I’m sure many would agree that there’s plenty of valuable time spent staring at a screen on a daily basis and it’s very easy to get consumed by them for hours without even noticing.
Instagram has become a guilty pleasure, or nearly an obsession of mine. I think it’s time to make the transition from Insta stories to thought-provoking stories found in the
newspapers or books.
5. A healthy body is a healthy mind
We have all fallen off the wagon when it comes to food.
I’ve always loved to cook fresh food every evening but lately I have fallen into a convenience food trap. Batch cooking healthy dishes will now be a priority for me.
I will also try boosting my immune system with multi-vitamins and aloe vera gel that I have cooling in the fridge.
Holding my nose and gulping 100ml of the aloe and berry mix each morning will certainly do the trick.
Starting with just a few changes can certainly give you the kick-start you need to get back to feeling good about yourself.
Even writing this article has helped me to focus and zone in on the things that always made me enthusiastic and energetic. A simple list can often be the best starting point and while the hardest part is following through with the rules you have set out, knowing and believing the positives that come with the changes should be enough to keep your eyes on the prize, a better you.