I firmly believe that our clients are some of the most motivated, steadfast and driven individuals. And in general, as women, we strive to do it all. We have careers, we take care of pets, kids or spouse needs, we keep households neat, tidy and updated, we shuffle kids to and from practices, we pay bills and get to appointments, we cook, we exercise, we grocery shop, we make time for friends, we volunteer, and the list just goes ON AND ON. Eventually, we get to a place where we just feel emotionally, mentally and even physically depleted. We can’t give each and every activity or “thing” one hundred percent of our effort, one hundred percent of the time. So, what can we do when we feel like we’ve hit a wall? We have to check-in with ourselves, re-evaluate and re-focus. This is where the Circle of Life comes into play.
I know, I’ve already got you singing The Lion King soundtrack. But, that’s not what I’m talking about! The Circle of Life is an exercise that was frequently discussed and practiced when I was a student seeking my holistic health coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Picture a pie chart divided into twelve sections. On the pie chart, you’ll find the following categories:
- Social Life
- Home Cooking
- Home Environment
- Physical Activity
Not all of the sections of the chart will be the same size or look the same. Certain pieces of the pie will be bigger, based on which categories are particularly strong and thriving in your life. For example, my running routine is rock solid. I put my baby in the stroller, and I just go, rain or shine. I feel strong and well-conditioned when I run. My steps are nice and high each day. Physical activity is definitely present in my daily routine. However, if I’m being honest, my time to exercise creativity is lacking. There is no opportunity for me to start any projects right now. I would love to work on some projects around my house, but it’s next to impossible. I have a very high maintenance baby girl who only wants mom right now, along with my career, my two other kids and all of their activities, managing my household, all of our schedules and so much more. My creativity is just something I don’t get to exercise much in this phase of life. And that’s okay! It’s a phase, and that’s important to recognize. My children won’t be little forever, and if some days I have to lay on the couch with my daughter while she nurses for hours on end, I’ll cherish it while I can. However, sometimes when we fail to give any one of these various categories our attention for too long, our overall mental health (and possibly physical health, too) takes a big hit. This results in our nutrition and overall health suffering as well. Let’s face it, if mental health is lacking, our physical health falls down too, and vice versa. That’s why it’s SO important to pay attention to our emotional and mental health as well.
Many clients will check-in with us feeling very down, week after week. We frequently hear phrases like “I just can’t get out of this funk,” and “I just don’t feel like myself lately.” This is when it’s especially important to do a self check-in. Sit down, break out the paper and pen, and write out your personal Circle of LIfe. It doesn’t have to be in pie chart form! Write it out however makes the most sense to you. You can simply list them, categorize them, color code them, whatever helps you to visually see what categories are high, average or low. From there, you can reflect and ask yourself important questions. For example, maybe you find your career is leaving you particularly drained and dissatisfied. From there, you can ask yourself, “what can I change about this situation?” Could you work from home on certain days? Could you reduce your hours? Or do you just really not enjoy the work in your career field? These are important questions. Maybe you need to take some time to decide if that career field is where you should stay. Or, perhaps you just need to implement some time management strategies. Instead of working out after your work day, maybe waking up an hour earlier to exercise would leave you time to be with your family during the evening, prep some food or enjoy a snuggle session with your spouse in the evening. Sometimes, the solution can be rather simple, and just a matter of “doing.”
You will also find that many of these categories go hand-in-hand with each other. For example, if you aren’t actively putting time into your relationships, your social-life probably isn’t very vibrant. If you aren’t doing much home-cooking or exercising your creativity, you might find that your home environment isn’t very peaceful, organized or functional. If you aren’t prioritizing your overall health, your physical activity is most likely lacking. This is important to recognize because choosing to prioritize one or two of these categories can often boost your satisfaction with other areas too.
Phases of life, as I discussed earlier, are not always something we can do much about, and we have to accept this. We don’t always need to actively put in work to change something, but rather just make the best of our circumstances, if it’s a phase. For example, if you recently got diagnosed with cancer, your routine is going to be uprooted and your life is going to be affected. Or, maybe you just had a baby. That baby is going to shift your daily routine drastically, and you’re going to have to adjust to a new norm. This is when it’s important to strive to thrive in the season you’re in. But, other times, there are moves we can make in order to find more contentment and ultimately, health and overall well-being. We can’t be complacent, we have to actively work to improve areas of our lives that are lacking.
Take twenty minutes sometime this week to check-in with yourself. Are there any obvious areas that you need to give a little TLC? It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. If your physical activity is low, commit to taking a walk twice this coming week, for thirty minutes. That’s it! Two thirty minute walks. I bet you will find yourself wanting to take even more walks. Or, commit to cooking dinner one night this week and eating at the table as a family. Those small steps are what lead to BIG positive changes over time that better our overall health, and also leave us much more fulfilled.
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