Hey Clay

Letter No. 10: Where’s the Balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit?

Hey Clay,

What advice can you give me to achieve a healthier mind, body & spirit balance in my life?

I’ve gone through a lot of changes from selling/buying a house & moving twice in 90 days. We left our church & no longer have nearby family support. I feel like I’m simultaneously not doing enough and doing nothing at all.  I used to run a lot, but haven’t run in months. I feel like I operate in spurts & sprints with breaks in between as a poor attempt at balance. I’d like to operate more consistently with balance between work, social justice/activism, health & wellness of body, spirit & mind.

Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Very White Guy

Hey, Very White Guy,

With all that you’ve got going on at the moment, I’m glad you were able to find some time to drop me a line. Believe it or not, you’re juggling several of life’s most stressful events—not one but two relocations (and all that that entails) plus the emotional separation from family and friends—simultaneously. Having gone through a transcontinental move myself a few years ago, I can thoroughly appreciate the gravity of your situation.

I must say, you’re ahead of most people who find themselves in a state of imbalance. Most people only feel that “something’s not right” without taking the cause into account. Let’s take a look at the before and the after and see if we can maybe devise a way for you to get more balance.

Before your relocations, your life had a sense of rhythm to it. You probably awoke at a regular time, moved through your morning rituals, went to work, took care of errands, ran through your fitness regimen, managed your social justice activities, and had enough time left over for running. Plus, you had regular time for church, family, and friends. Their involvement may not have been with the regularity you could check against your smart phone’s clock, they still were available and easily accessible.

Life was regimented and familiar. Just about everything was a known entity.

And then … your world got turned upside-down.

You sell one house, buy another, find a realtor, list the house, prep the house for viewing, and make arrangements so the house can be seen. And there’s the packing, the moving, blah, blah, blah. Then there’s everything that goes into finding a house to buy, determining what you need versus what you want, the location, the price, finding time to look, negotiating the price, blah, blah, blah. Keep in mind you’ve only got twenty-four hours in a day, and these important new activities ate up time devoted to previously important activities.

See where I’m going with this? Prepping to move the first time marked the beginning of mild rumblings before some major seismic activity. Your life is out of balance because your world, while getting an upgrade, has been slowly increasing in its level of imbalance since your decision to relocate. Unfortunately, areas of our lives aren’t easily compartmentalized. All the elements of your life are interconnected.

So now what to do to get the balance back?

You’ve taken the first step already, and that’s recognizing that things are out of balance. I don’t know the state of your union currently, but here’s a few steps I think that might help you achieve a greater sense of balance in your world.

Step 1: Recognize that your world is out of balance due to uprooting your life from one locale and transferring it to another. Done.

Step 2: Exhale and don’t break out the superhero cape.
Everything’s going to be alright. It may take a little longer than it took to make the moves, but it’s coming. Yes, a proactive approach will hasten the process, just don’t try to fix everything at once. Your world didn’t get this way overnight.

Step 3: Focus.
You know that old joke, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same principle applies here. Prioritize the areas of your life that need to be addressed and work at them a little bit at a time. Here’s how you can tackle the major areas.

HOME – you’ve got to have a stable base from which everything else radiates. I don’t know the state of your home, so I’m going to assume the worst. If your bedroom is in a shambles, get that squared away first. Without good rest, everything else is going to go to pot in no time flat. Take two hours you might use to do your activist work, devote them to getting your bedroom unpacked and set-up; then you have that out of the way and you can watch Netflix and chill. The next day or a couple days later you turn your attention to another room, give it a dedicated amount of time, and so on and so on.

CHURCH — if church is a priority, as it was with my move, this may take some time. First realize that you’ll never find exactly what you had in your previous church. There were site specific elements that made your former church unique; namely the people and those relationships. If you like the denomination, visit other churches of that denomination in your area. Or if you’re comfortable, as a few coworkers. Just know that it takes more than one visit to a church to get a good feel for the congregation/parish.

Also, build in some time at the beginning and end of your day for prayer and meditation. Keeping rooted in your relationship with God will take some of the pressure off you thinking that you have to do it all. You don’t, God’s got your back. Remember that.

WORK — hopefully, this is already taken care and you’re working a regular schedule. Work, even with its own challenges—learning the ropes, building relationships with new coworkers, and fitting into the culture—will be the biggest factor in feeling settled in your new routine.

RUNNING — I’m not a runner at all, but here again as with the previous three areas, the sooner you can set a regular time to run and stick to it, the sooner it’ll feel normal.

SOCIAL JUSTICE/ACTIVISM — since your world is already out of whack, instead of giving this project snippets of time, set aside one or several designated blocks of time during the week specifically for this activity.

4. Chill.
UNWIND — now more than ever, you’re going to need at least one hour out of the week to just veg. All stress and no rest will move anyone from a stressed to an exhausted state.

SLEEP — don’t forget to schedule a little more time for your body to recover from the stresses you’re living through.

However you decide to break up your time, the key is to spend a set amount of time focused one task at a time. In the beginning, actually keeping a schedule may seem crazy, but dedicating time to specific tasks and having it in a form you can actually see will relieve some of feelings that you’re spinning your wheels. It’ll also increase your sense of productivity as you look back over your week and see the items you’ve accomplished. Eventually, the need for a schedule will wane as you settle into your new natural rhythm.

VWG, I hope this helps get you build a new groove that you’ll enjoy getting into.


If you have a situation that you’re currently dealing with that you’d like me to address, send an email (with a clever pen name instead of your real name) to me at heyclay@clayrivers.com, and tell me all about it. I’ll read through the submissions, pick one, and on Wednesdays or Thursdays I’ll post the chosen letter along with my response here on my blog, my Facebook author page, and my Twitter account. Rest assured, I will not publish email addresses. Ever.

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