**This post was written by the beautiful, the kind, the silly, and the wonderful Kelliann. Kelliann is the sister-in-law of a one of my favourite people from Uni, and I was fortunate enough to have Kelliann truly enter my life after two of our dear friends got married. She is ‘the girl in the yellow dress’, as my parents still call her; a beautiful blonde creature who’s personality is just as memorable as the dress she wore to the wedding. She is sunshine and she is kindness, she is silly yet she is deep, and I am lucky to be able to call her ‘friend’. Enjoy!**
Name: Kelliann Carroll
Job: College Counselor
Favourite candy: Heath Bar
Favourite quote: ‘I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is’’ - Kurt Vonnegut
Whenever I think of the word “balance,” a vision of the balance beam in my old gymnastics gym comes to mind.
Walking across the thin beam while my first grade gymnast-pals watched was an insurmountable challenge. My instructors would give tips like “stare at a spot on the far wall,” and my friends would suggest spreading my arms wide to help myself stay steady; even then, balancing did not come easily to me.
Now, twenty years later, I can honestly say…. I still haven’t mastered it.
That said, I have gotten better at creating time for the moments, events, activities, and people that are significant to me. I have learned (on my good days) how to find stability in what is often a consistently unbalanced, chaotic life.
I have developed what I believe are healthy habits; regular choices that make my life, and the lives of those close to me, better.
Here are 5 healthy habits for a well-balanced life:
1. I take note of how I feel when I do something good for my body.
In the mornings, I have a small glass (let’s be real – it’s a shot glass) full of kombucha. Then, I take my vitamins – for me, that’s B12, coQ10, a multi-vitamin, biotin, and fish oil, suggested for me by my doctor based on my blood work. Throughout the day I make conscious efforts to choose fruits, vegetables, and proteins for my meals and snacks. That’s not to say I don’t grab a brownie or a rice krispie treat every once in awhile from my school’s dining hall (I work at a boarding school), but every time I eat there is a full thought process that goes along with it.
The only way – and I mean the only way – this works for me is to take time to consider how my body feels. Otherwise, I would choose pizza and tacos every time!
After I eat spinach, I pay attention to the rise in my energy level. When I take my vitamins without kombucha or something for breakfast, I recognize the pain in my stomach. When I have a bowl of ice cream too late at night, I acknowledge that it is much more difficult to fall asleep.
My body tells me exactly how it feels, and after blatantly ignoring what it has been saying for the majority of my life, I am finally making a commitment to listening and giving it the respect it deserves.
2.When I’m having a bad day, I brighten someone else’s
I am sure I am not alone in feeling overworked and underappreciated at times. I have days where I daydream about quitting my job, emptying my savings account, and traveling the world with my husband. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to try that, but until then, I have to manage all of this negativity.
What works for me is to reach out and do something genuinely kind for someone else. Sometimes that manifests itself in the form of an out-of-the-blue email, thanking someone for his or her effort and hard work. Other times, I strike up a conversation with someone who may not get enough attention or consideration – the school secretary, the cashier at Target, the woman who swipes my card at the gym.
Compliments, authentic conversation, and small actions that say “I care about you,” not only help someone else, but they feel awesome.
It is so gratifying to connect with others. I find that many times, my day starts to turn around. (This is true for most days. Some days can truly only be salvaged by screaming into a pillow and drinking tall glasses of wine.)
3. I make time for the things I loved when I was a little kid
I have lived on this earth for twenty-six years, and nothing brings me joy like going back to the beginning: mac n’ cheese, video games, Disney movies, dance parties, coloring.
There is something liberating about blasting your favorite Spice Girls song and realizing just how well you remember the choreography from that music video you filmed with your friends in grade school.
I’m sure there is some psychology behind the sentimentality and nostalgia these activities drum up, but honestly, they’re just fun. It’s fun to make a hand-made birthday card. Pop-Tarts and chicken nuggets are unfailingly delicious. Board games are even more entertaining and lively when adult drinks are involved.
Trust me; if you need to turn off your brain, be an eight-year-old for a few hours.
4. I get outside
The winter months make getting outside seem impossible. Who wants to put on all that gear – hats, gloves, jackets, scarves – just to freeze to death anyway?! I am 100% guilty of driving across the street to pick up my mail rather than walking because it is just Too. Damn. Cold.
That said, artificial heat is not good for my eyes, throat, or lungs. Sitting at my desk, staring at my computer for an entire day only to come home, sit on my couch, and stare at my TV is an indisputably unhealthy way to live. It is significantly more fun to grill burgers and eat watermelon outside on a July Saturday night, but letting my dog run around outside for twenty minutes while I breathe in some clean, crisp air is good for my mind, body, and soul.
And, playing in the snow is a great way to accomplish tip #3 and tip #4!
5. I give myself things to look forward to
I love my planner. I write down all of my meetings, phone calls, work events so immaculately you would think I was getting graded.
But, in the corner of each of my pages, among all of the work chaos, I write a little note to myself. “Chinese food on Thursday night.” “Skiing this weekend.” “The Bachelor is on tonight.”
Clearly, I live a thrilling life, but the point is that every time I open my planner I am reminded that I have something to be excited about. I have something to be grateful for. Whether I have a full-blown vacation planned or there’s a two-for-one sale on my favorite granola bars, every day has a little something scribbled in the corner.
I am not a pro at being healthy. I’m sure my friends and family can list many times where my moods swallowed my ability to be civil, let alone kind to strangers. I have full weekends where my diet consists of chips, beer, and cheeseburgers with not a vitamin to be seen. Sometimes things are so tough to handle that I can’t think of a single thing to look forward to or be happy about.
But, I have found when I make time for them, these habits improve my quality of life. They make me think, feel, act, and be better. Being healthy is not about eating kale and crushing leg day – it is a combination of all areas of wellness, a decision you make every morning to try your hardest to serve yourself and others in the best way possible.
And, it’s about balance.
After all, cheeseburgers are a food group, right?!