A Quick Strategy to Help Balance Our ALS Life
I’d like to send a hearty congratulations to us all!
Why the celebration? Well, we’ve survived the first three months of the year in a world that continues to surprise and challenge us. Plus, for many who live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), making it through another three months justifies any kind of celebration.
For me, three months is the perfect time to pause, take a look back, and rebalance my well-being. I like to time this with the changing of the seasons, which is always a good time for reflection, goal setting, and a fresh start.
But aren’t we too busy to stop and reflect?
I know we can point to our personal calendars and confirm that we’ve been very busy in the past three months — with medical appointments, visits from friends and family, and small projects at home. But the big questions are: Have we been paying attention to our own well-being? Have we been living our lives in a deeply satisfying way?
Everyday busyness can mask underlying feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction, which isn’t healthy for our bodies and minds or for those around us.
My past professional work involved teaching community wellness and mind-body health classes through our hospital’s outreach program. Now that I live with ALS, I use these same wellness principles to help me live a balanced life.
The core concept is to view our lives as having five dimensions: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and meaningful activities. Even though there will be brief periods when one dimension overshadows the others, or several blend together, our goal is to have all five dimensions contribute equally to our life every day. For an in-depth look at each dimension, I recommend reading the column “How to Find Balance in an Unbalanced Life.”
How I do it
The following is an easy activity to do, but it requires a block of quiet time to encourage quality reflection. I make a list of all five dimensions. Then, one at a time, I write down the things that are going well in each category, or if I believe a dimension needs improvement, I list several ideas that could help. If I feel a dimension is doing OK, I make a note to maintain whatever it is I’m doing.
For example, here’s a quick rundown of my three-month wellness dimensions assessment:
- Physical: I’m focused on balancing my health by eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising gently. I’ve had an ALS clinic visit and am taking proper medication. Check!
- Social: Check, again. I’ve been staying connected with friends and family.
- Intellectual: Another check. I keep myself mentally sharp by writing my weekly columns and trying to solve the daily puzzles in the newspaper.
- Emotional: Needs improvement. I need to devote more time to self-care. (Who doesn’t?) Sometimes I get so involved in working on my computer that I blow right by my planned break times. I’ll try setting timers and incorporating more “self-care minis,” or strategies that help me cope and live with my ALS, into my day.
- Meaningful activities: I found myself taking on too many projects and felt mounting stress when their deadlines overlapped. Chatting about it with a friend, she confided that she’d love to take over one of the online newsletters I was writing. We high-fived the trade, and now we’re both happy with our list of meaningful activities.
I’ve found this three-month ritual helpful and enlightening. It’s helped me bring balance, meaning, and value to my life, and I know it will do the same for yours, too. This is one more strategy we can use to help us learn how to live well while living with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.