Be Balanced: The Wheel of Life
Several weeks ago, I was chatting with Rita Williams, Health Coach with Beebe Integrative Health & Wellness, when she mentioned the Wheel of Life, a tool that, broadly speaking, can help you find balance in your life. Naturally, I had to know more, and what she shared with me blew my mind!
The Wheel of Life is a circle divided like a pizza into eight slices. Within the wheel, there are 10 concentric circles numbered 1 (the innermost circle) through 10 (the outermost circle). Each slice is labeled with a different aspect of life, such as Money, Health, Physical Environment, and Career. To use the wheel, you go section by section and draw a dot in the concentric circle that corresponds with how you feel you’re doing in that area of your life. If you’re feeling frustrated or dissatisfied with your job or career, for example, you might give that area a 2, and if you’re feeling very accomplished and proud of the health changes you began making a few months ago, you might give Health a 9.
What’s especially interesting about the Wheel of Life to me is that it’s so personal and subjective. Regular readers of this blog know that I am someone who is very affected by my physical environment. So I might think of my home, imagine the pile of laundry on the dining room table, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, and the pile of mail on the counter (Why are there so many piles?!), feel annoyed, and give myself a 3. My husband, who doesn’t see messes (and when he does, isn’t bothered by them), might do the same mental scan and give himself an 8 for Physical Environment.
Rita told me that no one’s wheel would actually function as such; most people score themselves very highly in a few areas and relatively low in others. But, the wheel gives you a fairly holistic picture of your life and helps you identify areas that you might want to work on. You might have an area where you score yourself pretty low, but maybe it doesn’t bother you that much, or maybe you’re not ready to address it.
I gave the Health area a pretty low score, and it’s not because I’ve been running less than I would like. As I alluded to in last month’s blog, I am a pretty big couch potato during the week, and I often fall asleep on the couch. It sets in motion a series of events that just make me feel gross – stumbling up the stairs to bed, not having a proper bedtime routine, and starting the next day feeling groggy and not well-rested.
Honestly, this thing that feels like a harmless little habit is terrible for my mental health. Since health, in all its forms, is important to me, I decided to make one small change after completing my wheel: I now go upstairs to bed each night when I get tired, rather than fall asleep on the couch. I’ve been doing it long enough that it’s starting to feel like a habit, and I’m now thinking about the next little thing I might want to change that would positively impact my health.
Long-lasting, sustainable change is not grand and sweeping; it comes from many small changes that compound over time. As Rita shared with me, some of the habits that she now considers hardwired used to take real effort. So, I encourage you to complete your own wheel, and think about what little changes you might want to make to bring it more into balance.
Several months ago, I wrote a blog post singing the praises of my favorite form of exercise: running. I ended the post by saying, “With any luck, I’ll be ready to run a half marathon this fall.” Famous last words!
Even though I practically jogged out of my six-week postpartum check-up, life and my body had other plans. I was as diligent as I could be, but given the choice to go for a run or spend time with my baby girl, baby girl won every time. For several months, I held her for at least an hour after she fell asleep each night to ensure she wouldn’t wake up as soon as I put her down in the crib, so post-dinner runs were off the table. And my favorite: two weeks back into running and a follow-up trip to the OB/GYN, and I realized I needed pelvic floor physical therapy.
PSA: Even though it was time consuming at a time in my life when there was no such thing as free time, I cannot say enough good things about pelvic floor PT. If you’ve had a baby and something just doesn’t feel quite right down there, I strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor and ask about physical therapy. Peeing when you sneeze, pain during sex, or other discomforts do not have to be permanent side effects of having a baby!
My return to running didn’t go exactly as planned, but it is going, and for that I am grateful. I finished the Dogfish Dash a few weeks ago with a time that would have mortified pre-baby Ale, but post-baby Ale was thrilled to be able to just get out there and finish the race the best way I knew how. Sunshine, sweat, Seaquench, and time with family and friends – it doesn’t get much better than that!