**This post was written by the lovely Laura Versage. Just like with Tracey, our second guest writer in this series, Laura and I grew up in the same neighbourhood and have known each other since we were around four years old. She is my very best friend and no matter what life throws at me, she’s always there offering support. She is my confidant, and hers is one of the friendships that doesn’t seem to have altered in any way since I moved to London. She is humble yet she is giving, she is serious yet bubbly, she’s one of the most genuine people I know, and I feel #blessed every day that she loves me. Enjoy!**
Name: Laura Versage
Job: Benefits consultant
Location: Frederick, Maryland
Favourite candy: Raisinets
Favourite quote: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future - Proverbs 31:25”
At 27, I feel like I have a fairly good handle on balancing my life. In general I have always been able to recognise what my body and soul need in order to thrive.
I think my parents can take most of the credit for raising me and my siblings in an environment of healthy habits, faith, hard work, positive relationships, and internal reflection. When you are a kid, your parents do the balancing for you. Their goal is to guide you through a wholesome and satisfying childhood. Once you leave the nest, you become solely responsible for cultivating a fulfilling lifestyle.
Fast forward a decade or two, and all of a sudden the stresses you had when you were 17 seem silly. You now have your own family to nurture, you own a house and need to keep it neat and orderly, you’re trying to stay in touch with your relatives and friends who live hundreds or thousands of miles away, you must excel at your job to support your increasingly expensive lifestyle, and in the midst of all this you are trying to find time to invest in hobbies and passions and, ya know, have a LIFE.
I was more or less single until the time I met my future husband. I found the hardest transition for me in life thus far was moving from living with my girlfriends in DC to moving in with my fiancé. This wasn’t due to a lack of love and commitment in the relationship. It was realising there was so much I took for granted living with my girlfriends in DC when I was really only accountable for myself.
My advice today is based on how I currently stay grounded in the midst of a crazy house-renovating, puppy-raising, wedding-planning life. Sure, there are an unlimited number of things I could list that have obvious effects on overall well-being.
Drinking a litre of water can instantly eliminate a headache.
Making your bed every morning can set you up for a more productive day.
There are magic potions at Sephora that can literally change your skin overnight (I can attest).
That aside, when Victoria asked me if I would like to write on her bog, my goal was to write something from my heart.
Thinking about my current overall state of happiness, I would say that there are four main contributors that keep me grounded and balanced amidst the chaos.
Get your butt moving
Exercise is by far the most important thing that keeps me centred and in a good mood.
Yes of course, food, sleep, and water are all contributors to a healthy mind and body, but exercise produces drugs in your brain that literally make you happy.
It speeds up your metabolism too, which means you can have a night on the town and not feel guilty about those two (or five) margaritas. Not only that, but any problems you had before you went to the gym feel much more manageable once you leave.
Physical activity has always been something I try to encourage in others. Even if it’s walking the dog for a mile, everyone should make physical exercise a priority in their life.
Fill your love tank
Have you ever had the feeling like your heart is empty?
Or maybe you and your partner are having an off week and you feel like they are not showing enough affection?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, it could mean your love tank isn’t as full as you need it to be. Love tanks fill up when the people around you speak to you in your love language.
For those that are not familiar, a love language is the way you give and receive love. You may be thinking “this sounds corny and lame’” but trust me it’s changed my life. Regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not, your love language is something I think everyone should be aware of.
The five languages are:
Acts of service
Words of affirmation
My primary love language today is quality time. If I find that a week goes by and I’m feeling disconnected from my fiancé, 100% of the time it’s because we have not been able to spend quality time together. This means doing something together that doesn’t involve our phones or the television. It involves having more than just passing conversations of “When will you be home?” or “What should we have for dinner?”
It could be something as simple as going grocery shopping together or taking our dog, Luna, for a walk that makes all the difference.
I think every couple should be aware of each other’s love language and consciously practice them as much as possible. It creates a firm foundation of feeling loved and fulfilled that sets you up to be balanced in every other aspect of life.
Make time for GNOs and BNOs
Up until when I moved in with my fiancé, I had ALWAYS lived with females. Growing up, I shared a room with my sister. In college, I lived with my sorority sisters. Out of college, I lived with my dear friend Victoria (shout out) for three years.
Then all of a sudden, I found myself living with a boy. He didn’t want to have getting ready parties with me, he never could tell me which outfit looked better, and he refused to watch Hallmark movies with me. If I recall, the first time I turned on the Hallmark Channel while he was sitting next to me on the couch he groaned and said “Don’t tell me you like these kind of shows?” BOY PLEASE.
In the beginning there were times when I cried to him that I missed having that girl time because I was living in a new town where I had no girlfriends. He encouraged me to make girlfriends a priority in my life.
Once you move in with your significant other, it is so easy to get caught up in spending all your time with them, which is why I make it a priority to schedule time with my girlfriends every month. There’s something about getting dressed up, leaving the men at home, and having some girl talk that will smooth cracks in your soul you didn’t even know existed. The same can be said for men and needing time to just be “one of the guys”.
The more I try to be intentional with my life, the more of a negative affiliation I have with my phone and social media.
Often times we get home from a particularly trying day at work and just want to put our feet up and give our brains a break. I totally get that some days you just need to be one with your couch. Every day my fiancé comes home from work and needs about 30 minutes to himself in his favorite recliner.
I get it.
But I have personally found that there is a direct correlation between my unhappiness and time spent on social media. I’m all for the resourcefulness of a phone; I can easily stay in touch with friends and family, Google Maps can tell me EXACTLY where and when to turn (somehow I still manage to screw it up), and I can listen to books during my hour long commute to work. But at the same time, it also becomes a vessel for comparisons, self-valuation, jealousy, and envy.
n 2018, the average adult spent 3 hours and 30 minutes on their phones every day. That equates to 53 days in a year. That is pretty terrifying if you ask me. With the new iPhone update, it’s easier than ever to monitor time spent on your phone. I’ve set a limit for myself on my phone and continue to decrease it every week with the goal of living a more intentional and productive lifestyle.
Happiness is all relative
With all that said, I know that you might only be able to relate to one or two of the things on my list. Or, you may not believe in any of them and that’s okay too.
My happiness has always been a product of recognising what’s sustaining my own positive feelings. Actively working on these four things has exponentially improved my well-being and helps me stay balanced amidst the craziness.