Last month we started a two-part series on the importance of a balanced life. I am hoping that after an assessment of those first six areas, you were able to start getting some of those needed areas back into balance. In part 1, we covered feelings, relationships, communication, work, eating and exercise.  As a reminder, we talked about how easy it can be to fall out of balance when dealing with a loved one suffering from substance use disorder. An out of balance life can result in many potential issues including withdrawal, anxiety, depression, and/or a loss of appetite (or the opposite). Frankly, a myriad of things can happen and cause our overall wellbeing to suffer tremendously.

The final six areas will complete the twelve spokes of the balanced life wheel.

  1. Rest is an opportunity to regroup. Certainly, rest is about getting a good night’s sleep, but it can also mean getting rest during the day, if needed. Another type of rest is to just take five minutes in between activities to sit quietly or read or meditate. Let this be a time to clear your mind and do something to take your thoughts off all that is around you. Sometimes it’s just looking up at the sky or daydreaming about a vacation or place you would love to visit. Take the time to relax and rest, it can help you feel better.
  1. Recreation: When life is out of balance, it can be easy to forget to have fun. Remember just playing as a child? No cares in the world – just doing something you enjoy. The same is true as an adult…have fun. Do something that makes you laugh or something more physical like taking a hike or going for a walk. When was the last time you took time to read a book that allowed you to get swept away in the plot? Engaging in “play” is a great way to get your life on track.
  1. Attitude: This is essentially how you choose to react to what is happening around you. We can choose our attitude. You may not be able to control what is happening, but you can choose how to respond. Reflecting on gratitude amid being overwhelmed, can shift your mindset positively, offering clarity and a renewed perspective. You may feel that you failed at something, but you can choose to move on and try something else. You can choose to be happy, to be friendly or to not live in fear. This takes a strong belief system, good self-esteem, detachment, emotional courage, and faith.
  1. Focus: Keep your focus on what needs to be attended to now, not what happened but what you can do now. This can shift during the day, at work, at home, or depending on the circumstances. Our choice to change our focus can help us grow and adapt. Focusing on priorities and what we have control over helps us succeed in life.
  1. Personal Growth is about looking at our lives and determining if we are stuck and not growing. Being in a state of improvement and personal growth helps us improve our self-esteem and our outlook. Part of the focus we talked about above can be on personal growth. This can help us work through emotional pain, fears and to be more honest, patient, kind and loving.
  1. Spirituality is the final spoke in the wheel of a balanced life. This is where we get our faith and hope to live our lives. This is our belief system. We need to daily connect with our spirituality, for many this is their relationship with God. We can do this in many ways from reading to attending a church or a group to using meditation to connecting to focusing. The idea of something greater than ourselves can help us with perspective and help us with a source of direction and strength.

I realize this is a lot to take in, but getting balance in your life can make a significant difference when you put these ideas into practice. Take a moment to write down the twelve spokes of a balanced life then assess which ones are out of balance or which ones you are neglecting or which areas you are overemphasizing. Then, if needed, write a plan on how you can make necessary adjustments. Keep looking at this often and reassessing. Many times, when I sit with someone and go over this, they have no idea how out of balance they are. The act of purposely looking at this will help us to act our way into doing what we need to do when we don’t “feel like” doing something.  For example, when you purposely find the time for play, or exercise, afterwards you find yourself thinking about wanting to do that again.

Having a loved one suffering from the disease of addiction can create havoc in our lives if we allow it. Being aware of what is happening is a step in the right direction. Having a balanced wheel makes for a much smoother ride.


Ron Paterik, MA, LISAC

Ron is a licensed independent substance abuse counselor at Grand Canyon Counseling, in Phoenix Arizona