Wellbeing

How To Maintain Balance When You’re Busy

At this time of year when life shifts a gear and everything kicks into full throttle, life can get pretty chaotic. JACQUELINE ALWILL, nutritionist, personal trainer and founder of whole foods catering company The Brown Paper Bag, shares her experience with ‘balancing busy’ and some top tips to keep it all under control.

Chaos can be pretty unhealthy, depending on the way you receive it, manage it and learn from it. I’ve learnt a few lessons from chaos in the past. In fact, this time a year ago was the beginning of the biggest lesson I’ve learnt with my health to date. It had been a massive year; I’d embraced everything coming my way, and by everything I mean it. I said no to nothing.

Opportunity was everywhere and no chance was it going to pass me by. It came to September and just as I was tying up the production of my first published book, other channels of my business picked up a notch and my ‘I got this’ attitude did so too. In my mind I didn’t need too much help, things were ‘easier’ if I just took them on and got them done the way I knew how to. ‘Yes’ was everything; ‘no’ just wasn’t an option. I walked into the chaos thinking I had it sorted and while I got through it, it was only just.

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I feel you.

As the year closed, my body did too. Shut down, no more, burnt out. A burnt out nutritionist – is that even possible? Yes, in fact. I took on so much to look after the needs of others, that I forgot to remind myself of what my needs were too. Not only in a professional space but personally too. Proud of that? Definitely not. This experience was beyond a reality check, it was a complete smack down and a lesson in health that – for obvious reasons – I don’t want to take again.

The greatest lessons in life are also those that, unfortunately, are the hardest.

So as that chaotic time rocks into my life this year, I’ve made a very conscious decision that it won’t be the same as last. I don’t need to do everything, be everywhere, serve everyone. I am definitely taking on the busy in a different light, a more ‘organised’ chaos let’s say – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Opportunity will always come knocking, that doesn’t mean that saying no to a few means it won’t come visit again. Part of my business (wholefoods catering and events) gets busy during the festive season, so organisation and support has been key to managing the process – something I constantly have to work on because for so long I was convinced I could take it ALL on. But personally, for my health, sanity and happiness, there have been a few key elements that have helped carve a different path forward during this spirited time, and they look a little like this.

It’s OK to ask for help

Many of us don’t. Most of the time our egos tell us not to. Actually, opening up and admitting to yourself that it’s perfectly OK be real about what you can achieve is a strength, not a weakness. Asking for help is identifying that you can be stronger as a team than trying to do things all on your own.

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Admittedly, asking for help makes you feel pretty vulnerable at first, but one great lesson I’ve learnt in this past year is that vulnerability is a good thing. In fact, allowing yourself to be vulnerable shows more of your strength. Too few of us let vulnerability in.

Switch off completely, in order to switch back on

Ever noticed when you’re out and about how everyone is so connected to their phones, that they’re completely unaware of the real world surrounding them? You know what you’re doing when you go into the social media space, right? You’re looking, and for the most part comparing yourself to everyone else’s actions and lives. This is seriously unhealthy, on so many levels.

Everyone else’s ‘stuff’ will always be going on, but that doesn’t mean your path should be affected. Yet too often we let it be this way. I truly believe one of the best things I have done and others can do for their health is find powerful ways to switch off – and turning off social media, emails, and winding down is key. They only need to be switched on a couple of times throughout the day. Really, they do – the world doesn’t fall apart.

When we do switch off, we have so much more clarity about what we want to do just for us, and realise exactly how much time has been sucked away from our mental and emotional clearance in the process. Switch off in order to completely switch on your energy, health and clarity when you need to.

Rest and sleep are key

A couple of years ago I learnt to practice vedic meditation and it was life changing. I am committed to the practice – so much so that at this time last year, I was rising at 4:45am every single day just to make sure I got my morning meditation in before the day kicked off. The reality was that while meditation can energise you, my body was crying out for some more sleep.

I entered this year with a different approach. If I woke early and felt energised, I would rise to do my morning meditation. But if my body didn’t wake me, then my mind was cool with that because it was saying ‘I need more rest, please and thank you’.

Meditation is just as much about sitting in stillness, as it is about learning to look inward, understanding how your mind and body are working and how you can better connect them so they can serve you best. So if I sleep through that time for morning meditation, it’s OK. I can schedule it for later in the day or take five mid-morning to check in and do some deep belly breathing.

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I don’t punish myself for missing the morning medi, I let things flow. Flexible thinking is a powerful asset in health, yet sometimes we get caught in rigidity and the chaos throws us. 

There is nothing wrong with ‘no’

This is probably the biggest thing I have learnt in the last year. I spent a long time saying yes to everything, even if I didn’t really feel 100% about it. This year, things changed. I looked at what I really want to do and when opportunity knocked I looked at whether it aligned with my purpose. If it was a ‘hell yes!’ I moved forward. But if it wasn’t that, it was a no – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Saying ‘no’ is totally OK, you just have to learn to accept it that way, and learn how to conquer the voice that tells you to do it all no matter what. And that in itself is an incredible lesson to learn for your health, wellbeing and life overall.


Jacqueline Alwill is a qualified, practicing nutritionist, personal trainer, whole foods cook,founder and director of The Brown Paper Bag Nutrition. She is passionately committed to improving the health, wellbeing and happiness of all individuals.