Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maintaining Balance

I spent the last four months of 2011 traveling the world. As phenomenal and glorious as it was, I also experienced anxiety because I was separated from my normal routines. I could no longer share encouraging text messages, make my evening check-in phone calls, or spend face-to-face time with friends and family. Like most, my relationships serve as stabilizers. When I feel stress or emotional discomfort, routine check-ins and connections help me cope. While I was traveling what I normally did to diffuse or eliminate emotional discomfort was no longer available. I was thousands of miles and several time zones away from the activities and people who kept me grounded.

Not long into the trip I realized that I had two options. I could either slowly slide into an unstable place or I could find alternative ways to achieve balance. Having limited access to my usual stabilizers was not an excuse for me to regress. I refused to give myself permission to falter because who or what I depended on was not available. No matter the circumstance, I am always responsible for maintaining balance in my life.

When we find ourselves in unfamiliar situations it can cause anxiety. What we desire most—familiarity—may not be an option. Even still, we remain responsible for not only finding alternatives, but finding those alternatives within a reasonable amount of time. It is not in our best interest to ignore that we are out of balance just because familiarity and comfort aren’t available. The reasons leading up to the need to create more balance may not be pleasant, but the end result is positive. When we learn new ways to cope with life’s stresses, we build up our internal strength.

As a result of the relationship separation I experienced I learned two valuable lessons. I learned that all the support I need will be there. Always. Even when I’m not near my usual circle of friends and family, someone will step up. I developed friendships with genuine people who share the unique experience of traveling the world with me. These relationships have added significantly to my life even after the travel has ended. Most importantly, though, I learned that the emotional triggers that accompany me through life are not stronger than I am. Whether my normal coping strategies are available or not, I am strong enough to maintain balance and wise enough to know when I need to reach out.

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