Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Let’s think Wisely about Balance

Let’s talk about balance for a moment.


Our bodies are in a current state of chasing homeostasis.  Homeostasis is the tendency for our bodies to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external challenges.  Regardless of what external factors are influencing and affecting our bodies, internally our bodies are in a constant battle to restore balance.  This is what keeps us fighting fit, and prepares us mentally and physically to confront another day.


Stressors are what send us out of balance. Stressors are any stimulus that causes the release of stress hormones.  Mental exertion due to a heavy workload is a stressor.  Financial issues are a stressor.  Relationship woes are a stressor.  Exercise is a stressor.  Having sick kids is a stressor.  Moving house is a stressor.  Essentially anything that causes you that little bit of discomfort or anxiety known as stress, is deemed to be a stressor.


Our bodies, therefore, have a constant goal to combat stressors in order to resume a healthy state of equilibrium.


Stress can be healthy.  In fact, we all do need a little stress in our lives.  It aids in motivation, in keeping us focussed and on track, and makes our priorities clear too.  But stress can also be unhealthy too, particularly when it becomes a chronic condition, and even more so when it’s constantly compounded by other stressors.


A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a client who was struggling with fatigue and low energy as a result of an out-of-control workload.  This particular client was also having marital woes and had come to the conclusion themselves that maybe this was the ideal time to prepare for his first ever marathon.  He was under the false assumption that by exercising and doing something physical and healthy for himself, that this would help to reduce the stress he was already battling from other sources.


My response – “You don’t balance the scales by dropping a truck on it.”


It’s true.  One stressor doesn’t cancel out another.  All stress, no matter what stressor has created it, all ends up in the same stress pool.  Regardless of whether the stress has stemmed from a healthy or unhealthy activity or source, your body still only knows one way to deal with it.  And so it is for this reason that training for and running a marathon will not compensate for the negative stresses that are coming from elsewhere in his life.


This is not an uncommon assumption by many of us.  Yes we need balance in our lives.  And we may well be balancing out our time and energy by opting to divide our attention between various facets in our lives – and that’s a great thing!  But for our health’s sake, we need to consider our stress levels.  And just because we are balancing out where our time and energy is spent, does not automatically mean we are bringing our stress back into balance.


The only way to reduce our stress, and bring us closer to equilibrium, is to directly influence the exact source of the stress in the way that it’s effect on us is downgraded.


We need to all learn something from this.  Stress, particularly in it’s chronic form, can manifest itself into so many different forms of physical and mental illness.  If our lives are full of stress, we need to be kind to our bodies, not thrash them in the hope we can become healthier as a result.  We need to become in tune with our bodies; intuitive in the sense that we know in our minds as well as in our gut instincts that we are truly doing the best thing for them.  We live lives in the fast lane.  We don’t need to add any more hard or fast or heavy elements to our lives.  Instead we need to slow things down, take just one sip at a time, and smoothe out the imbalance we all experience from an overload of stress.