Today, let’s talk about the importance of staying balanced. COVID-19 and all that it entails can be dizzying. Yet we must stay balanced in order to effectively move forward.

Airplanes have a multitude of gauges, most of which are too complex for my brain to understand. One gauge that’s easier to grasp is the “artificial horizon,” which allows the pilot to know the plane’s orientation to the ground (whether the plane is level, climbing, or heading toward earth). Even when visibility is poor or the pilot becomes disoriented, it helps the pilot knows where “level” is. A similar concept is seen in race cars, where you’ll often see a red band of tape at the 12 o’clock position on the steering wheel to create an easy and immediate way to determine if the front wheels are pointed straight ahead. In a spin or out of control situation, the driver can more easily regain control if he has a clear understanding of where “straight” is. Both the artificial horizon and the red tape serve to help orient the pilot/driver. In clear conditions, they’re less important. But in hazardous conditions, they’re vital.  

This pandemic probably represents the latter. No matter our individual circumstances, we’re all experiencing a sense of disruption and some difficulty maintaining balance amid deep uncertainty and drastic change. Luckily, we all have the power to act against the destabilizing aspects of COVID-19 if we engage in “balancing activities.” Naturally, these activities will be highly individualized, yet, they should meet the following five basic criteria to be effective:

  1. Meaningful—Anything that helps us stay truly oriented must be meaningful at a personal level.
  2. Accessible—Our current situation is ongoing, and we need re-orient ourselves often. Once a week is not enough. Once a day may not even be enough. Pick something that can be accessed as needed.
  3. Healthy—By definition, something that helps keep us balanced should not negatively impact our health—physical or mental.
  4. Longstanding—The things that help to keep us balanced now are the same things that have kept us balanced pre-COVID-19. Those things that have long roots in our lives have kept us standing before and will do the same now.
  5. Enjoyable—It’s probably fair to conclude that the balance we need during COVID-19 means bringing back some joy. With that in mind, keep it positive. If it’s something enjoyable, you’re more likely to use it more often.

Remember, staying balanced does not happen by accident, so be intentional in your actions, and help those around you to do the same. These days, using your tools is more important than ever.

Tyler is Associate Medical Director of R3 Continuum (R3c), a global leader in protecting and cultivating workplace wellbeing in a complex world. He has over 13 years of domestic and international experience in behavioral health workplace absence—including disability and worker’s compensation assessment, consultation with employers and insurers on complex claims, effective return to work strategies, program development and improvement, and training and supervision of industry professionals. He’s a sought-after speaker, writer and contributor in the field of workplace behavioral health. You can reach him at [email protected]

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