It's possible to balance life's ups and downs

Life, generally, is a mixture of good and bad, ups and downs, sadness and happiness, success and failure, sickness and health. Throughout the time allotted to us we battle with balance and, at times, that battle can become quite fierce.

We can go through weeks, months, even years of positivity before we run into a wall of negativity. On the other hand we can experience extremes in a single day.

Emotional control takes effort and, perhaps more than that, it takes focus.

One of the most common mistakes an individual can make in the battle with balance is to assume that they are isolated in that battle; that those around them are not fighting the same fights; that no-one else knows what they are going through. The old saying "There is nothing new under the sun'' has always rung true. There is nothing you have experienced are experiencing or will experience that is truly unique.

The truth of the matter is that too many people fail to realise the truth of the matter and that's because they shut down their emotions. They're so busy packing the baggage that they'll carry with them through life that they fail to realise there is an alternative.

The turmoil and confusion a person feels can largely be hidden from public scrutiny...but there are always those who will see it.

Maintaining or regaining balance takes effort and it's not such a good idea to be distracted from that effort. We will all hurt and suffer but it's not necessary to prolong the pain.

The first step toward the messy business of unpacking life's baggage is to talk to other people...but it's important to find the right person and the right opportunity. And don't forget that those emotional bags you are carrying took a long time to pack and they will take some time to unpack.

The clouds can begin to clear when we give voice to our anxieties, fears and troubles. Putting things into words can result in a fresh clarity. When something that has been hidden away is exposed to the light the opportunity is presented to focus on it and that can lead down the path to resolution.

It takes deliberate action and determination but the results, over time, can be invaluable.

Helpful Hint

Stress fuels anxiety and is best dealt with at its source.

The simplest form of meditation could well be the answer.

First, find a quiet place where you can be comfortable.

Use your breath as a focus, a point of personal connection.

Once aware of the breathing process - both inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips - begin the process of thinking about each part of your body beginning with the extremities, your toes.

Think about your toes and acknowledge any tension there.

While breathing slowly and deeply feel the muscles in your toes begin to relax.

Continue the process moving gradually up your body...ankles, shins, knees etc. Take your time.

Work your way right through to the top of your head.

It may take some practice but, given time and application, this simple process can leave you relaxed and at ease.

Gary Bentley is a counsellor with Rural Aid.

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