What it means and how to achieve it.
I noticed it when I read the collected New Year’s resolutions from our editors, and when I sat down to read anything mental wellness-y from The Guardian, The New York Times, and [insert other generally well-regarded publication I hoard for Sunday downtime]. BALANCE: the search for it, the desire for it, the definition of it. Mostly to assuage the mounting anxiety that so many people around me seem to be feeling after a very bad year, and continuing pressure to have it all. All I can say is, the idea of it is appealing to me personally. But the concept is so ambiguous, so nebulous, that half the time I’m not sure whether I’m working towards it or not—or if it’s just another thing that I have to worry about achieving, but will end up just being another thing that stresses me out.
With that in mind, I asked four extremely busy women whom I admire—and who manage to get a shit load of stuff done without going crazy—about their concepts of balance and what they’re doing to achieve it. As it turns out, there’s no one right answer—with the one commonality being anxiety over the state of the world. I’m thinking of their thoughts and advice as a salve for whenever I feel overwhelmed (or, alternatively, for when I feel like I’m not doing enough). If you, too, feel an ever-increasing desire to tune out, bookmark, pin, and save: their words will no doubt prove invaluable.
Writer; Founder, The WW Club
“To me, balance is an ever-evolving concept (and a true art form!). Sometimes it means being totally immersed in my work and reducing social commitments in favor of early nights and quiet weekends. At other times, it’s about being a little less bound by my iCal schedule and Evernote lists, and trying to just go with the flow and enjoy life. There are a few mainstays of my routine—exercise, eating well, and seeing friends—but everything else has to be adaptable. I’m learning to embrace that. I neglected my personal well-being quite a lot last year, and I suffered for it. 2017 will be about being a little kinder to myself—whether that means killing the negative self-talk once and for all, or finally taking a goddamn vacation.
“Like many people, I ended 2016 feeling totally drained. I’m determined to look after myself a little more in 2017. With the anxiety-inducing nature of global current affairs being what it is, I’m sure lots of us are seeking ways to safeguard our mental and physical health while staying aware, informed, and proactive. It’s a challenge, but we’ll rise to it. I’m optimistic about that.”
Designer & Founder, Kara
“Balance is the understanding of yourself as both an individual as well as someone who exists amongst others as part of a greater whole. When we live in a vacuum of self-interest, negating the bigger picture, collectively we suffer. I strongly believe that you are only as fast as your slowest person. My ability to heal, progress, and thrive is dependent on the larger community around me.
“In a time of such immense turmoil and political upheaval, there is desperate need for balance. Minority demographics and those in a compromised position are at a greater risk of losing their voice and suffering from this change. If you are in a position to have compassion and help someone, now is the time to turn your thoughts and feelings into actions. Activism and healing go hand in hand. This year I will spend more of my time participating in my community and using my energy towards helping others.”
Stylist; Fashion-Editor-at-Large, Paper
“Balance to me is a state of equilibrium where you’re receptive to the energy and information that you need, while having the wherewithal to reject what you don’t.
“I think balance feels especially salient right now because of our political climate and because so many people are self-employed, or are acutely interested in self-promotion (for better or for worse). I think we’re recognizing our limitations and the toll the other parts in our lives take when we’re hyper-focused or neglectful of another. It’s actually an exciting time of self-love. The stakes are high: without vigilance and clarity we could passively cede business power—or rights.”
Editorial Manager, Coveteur
“I think an essential part of ‘balance’ is realizing that while it’s a nice idea, it can also be another thing to feel bad about, or something to fail at. It should be more of a concept to try to work towards—not another action item on your to-do list. Sometimes shit is too crazy and you can’t beat yourself up about that on top of everything else.
“I can’t help but think the election has been a catalyst in some way, if only because a lot of people’s basic rights and freedoms and livelihoods are in jeopardy. It’s put into perspective what actually matters. That, and the news is really fucking scary. You can’t be plugged into everything that’s going on all the time, and that’s becoming apparent really quickly. Obsessively analyzing your career path or that weird comment someone at work made isn’t really important if the world’s going to implode.
“A while ago I saw this thing on Moon Juice’s Instagram (LOL) that’s been stuck in my head ever since, and sums up how I’m going to *attempt* to find balance this year: ‘If you’re in the middle of a blizzard, just do blizzard with a smile on your face, and then relax and take in all the ‘me time’ when it’s hammock season.’”