Going Home And Achieving A Balanced Lifestyle

Today is the day. Finally after five weeks in the Clinic in Burwood I am being discharged, deemed safe enough to do so. For the last three weeks I have also been going to see my psychotherapist which has been fantastic. It was so good that they allowed me to go and see her. We were working on persuading my Mother Alter (I have Dissociative Identity Disorder DID) not to harm my husband hence the long stay in the clinic as his safety was at risk. I had come in because of a bad cutting episode caused by her so she’s a very dangerous persecutor alter. So between the psychiatrist at St John of God Clinic and my psychotherapist they brokered a deal with her that she would not harm my husband between appointments with the psychotherapist and if that was going to change she would text the psychotherapist. She is a woman of her word. She has proven that in the past so they believed her and I do too. So I’m going home !!! Yay. Can’t wait.

One of the things I’ve learned since being in here that I haven’t being doing is living a balanced lifestyle. It’s very hard to do with mental illness dominating your life and your families life so much.One of my goals post this admission is to address this.

An essential component in coping with our daily lives is the development of a ‘Balanced Life Style’. Imagine we are a watering can and the people we associate with are flowers. We are constantly giving of ourselves and energy to others. If we have nothing flowing back into the watering can, we become empty and dry. A balanced lifestyle we ensure we are filling up and replenishing ourselves. It includes:

Socialisation

Each of us needs to have social contacts on a regular basis sharing time with people who can be of support to us. Certainly, the amount of time we spend socialising varies with the individual, but on average one or two activities a week is recommended. If we are in a “couple” relationship it is important we spend some of our social time nurturing our own circle of friends. ie out to a sport with girlfriends, or golf with the fellows, so as not become overly dependent on our partner. It is also important in couple relationships to spend regular time away from the children so that there is time to develop, strengthen and nurture the relationship.

Recreation

If we look at the word recreation we can see that it is made up of “re-creation”. Recreation includes leisure activities that help us feel rejuvenated and from which we gain a certain satisfaction. Woodworking, pottery, crossword puzzles are just a few of the many available.

Physical

The physical side of a balanced life-style involves several aspects. Firstly, we need to try and maintain adequate nutrition, which includes three healthy meals a day and watching our caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine, found in tea, coffee and cola drinks triggers the release of stress hormones leading to the feeling of nervousness. It is important to be aware of our caffeine consumption, especially if we are already feeling nervous as a result of being stressed. Nicotine from cigarettes has the same effect as caffeine in that it stimulates the adrenaline glands to produce adrenalin. Alcohol may be appropriate in moderation, but misuse can increase our stress.

The “fight/flight” response of the body to stress is intended to lead to physical activity. It is important that we engage in a regular type of physical activity such as swimming, walking or jogging, to use up the adrenalin that might otherwise harm our bodies.

Intellectual

Our minds need to be stimulated by a variety of experiences and thoughts so we don’t become focussed on our stress. It is important to continue to learn throughout our lives. Intellectual stimulation can take many forms form reading the paper, attending courses and lively discussions.

Spiritual

Setting goals on the spiritual side of our life does not mean that we all have to attend Church. For some of us regular attendance at Church is appropriate. The spiritual side of a balanced lifestyle involves spending time examining our beliefs and values. At various times in our lives our beliefs and values may change and it is appropriate to check out if they are still working for us.

Emotional

To live effectively we need to be able to express our feelings and opinions, to listen to others and stand up for ourselves. We also need to have people to whom we can express our fears and concerns. Developing the emotional side of our lives means practicing our assertive skills and developing good friendships.

Relaxation

Relaxing the muscles and quietening the mind are important stress management techniques. Relaxation may take various forms such as yoga, meditation and deep muscle relaxation. Making time each day to relax is vital to allow our bodies to re-charge.

Work

Last but not least is “work”. You say, “Work is stress for me”. To achieve a balanced lifestyle we need to engage in activities that help us gain a sense of satisfaction. If our work is too stressful we need to look at either changing our attitude to it or changing our job. To derive a sense of satisfaction our work does not need to have a monetary value attached.

If after assessing your lifestyle you become aware of areas which are not balanced. It is important not to attempt to make changes in all areas at once. Choose one or two areas in which to set goals and once these are firmly established, move on to another area. It is important to realise that sometimes our priorities change and the time we spend in each area is reflected by our stage in life.

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I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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