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Achieving Balance in Our Lives

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- As a mental health provider, I have observed that most people who seek care are searching for some way to achieve balance in their lives. Some questions they are trying to answer are, "How do I balance needs of my spouse and needs of the Air Force?" "How do I balance my day-to-day duties with PT, professional military education, and school?" "How do I balance the roles of parent/airman/friend/spouse and still have time left for me?" As we progress through life, there are more and more things competing for our time and attention and threatening to throw off our balance.

As elusive as balance can seem, most of us know at least one person who seems to be a model of good balance; that person who seems to get all their work done between the hours of 7:30 and 4:30, who fits in enough exercise and sleep, who has fulfilling hobbies, and who seems calm and self-assured most of the time.
One quality these people seem to have is the ability to communicate well with others about their capabilities and limits. Many people express distress about balancing family life and work.

Spousal conflict related to this will often lead servicemembers to feel like they are pressured from both sides. They will then shut down, talk less, and grow more distant from their loved ones. This is the opposite of what should be done. Instead, try to identify what your loved ones are hoping for and identify boundaries you can set at work.

Carving out specific family time and identifying what will satisfy the spouse-- i.e. calling if you'll be more than a half hour late getting home from work-- are important objectives.

A second quality essential to achieving balance is the ability to be in the here and now. With such full lives, there is the tendency to spend much of our time worrying about something that happened yesterday or things on the
horizon: money concerns, our next assignment, relationships, and work responsibilities, which leaves very little of our mental energy for the here and now.

As it says in Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."