Balance is Key to Traditional Chinese Medicine — and Can Help Create a Balanced Life
Balance is a word that’s often invoked when discussing health and well-being. Work-life balance. A balanced diet. A balanced microbiome. A balanced life. Wellness is all about balance, so it seems. Sometimes “balance” feels out of reach, like a lofty goal mere mortals will never achieve. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. The foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine offer a manageable framework to learn how to integrate balance into your daily routine – and the seasons.
A balanced life isn’t a perfect one. It’s not without struggle or stress. But it is one that offers more ease and peace – and in turn, could be a helpful tactic as you fight fatigue with more than just caffeine and prioritize deep, restorative rest.
First, let’s look at the concept of a balanced life in TCM. You don’t see it called that, per se, but you’ll find examples throughout all of its practices and philosophy.
Balance in Traditional Chinese Medicine
As you learned in our TCM 101 blog post, you can think of your body as a scaled-down version of the universe. Home to your mind and spirit, your body is influenced by the five elements (fire, earth, wood, metal and water) and environmental factors (wind, cold, damp, dry and heat). Everything you do and think and experience and eat is also made up of and influenced by qualities like colors, flavors, the seasons and emotions.
With your body as a universe, your purpose or goal is balance. Sometimes you work to maintain balance and other times, you restore it. You can also think of balance as harmony, steadiness, equilibrium or homeostasis. TCM focuses on keeping the opposing forces of yin and yang as steady as possible. (Yin focuses on rest and stillness, and yang is action and movement.)
Within your universe – your body, according to TCM – you have both physiological and energetic organs and systems. They, too, need to stay in balance. And then there’s the “vitality” known as Qi or chi. This life force energy flows through your body via “meridians” – a set of channels that (like the organs and systems) correspond to both physiological paths and energetic ones. Everything in life can either increase or deplete qi.
Since TCM takes a holistic approach to wellness, everything is connected, from your thoughts and emotions to your diet and environment. Now let’s look at daily balance.
What a balanced life looks like day to day
Do you ever have those days where your whole schedule is “off”? Where you feel like you’re swimming upstream? The days after time change comes to mind, but you might also notice these feelings if you have to get up extra early to catch a flight or stay up late to finish your daughter’s Halloween costume. Maybe you’ve noticed that certain windows of time are better suited for specific tasks. Maybe you have ample energy for spreadsheets early in the day but can’t fathom opening Excel after 3 p.m. Or perhaps you notice that evening workouts just aren’t your thing but you can crush morning ones.
TCM has an explanation for this. There is a concept of a body clock that gives each organ system its own two-hour window to be front and center. You likely know about your circadian rhythm, or your natural sleep-wake cycle that actually runs 24 hours a day (not only when we’re sleeping and winding down at night). This body clock is related – and is a reminder that when we do certain things can have an impact on how well we sleep, how much energy we have or how we feel emotionally.
We’re going to dive into the specifics of the body clock in another blog post very soon. Here, let’s talk about some tips that can help you feel like you have a balanced life every day (or most days).
- Start by assessing the areas of your day that feel off or imbalanced. Are you tired in the mornings? Working late at night? Struggling to focus? Make a list of the things you want to change, along with a rough outline of your day.
- Once you’ve identified those areas, can you start to move around some tasks? Example: If your only time for workouts is after work, but you’re always dragging your way through them (or skipping more often than not), could you move them to earlier in the day?
- This might take a few trials, but see how you feel when you shift tasks to other times of day.
- Begin your workday with the most challenging tasks that require focus and energy. Conveniently enough, this will also be when you consume your Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens so you can fight fatigue with more than just caffeine!* By making this a daily habit, you’ll reap the adaptogenic benefits over time.*
- Work out in the morning, even if that means swapping a run for yoga. Late-night workouts can be too energizing, keeping you up past bedtime. If you crave movement after dinner, opt for a walk or gentle stretching.
- Have a late-afternoon snack to keep your energy up, and avoid caffeine. (That 3 p.m. latte will come back to haunt you!)
How to find seasonal balance
TCM also offers ways to find balance from season to season, which largely aligns with what happens in nature. Winter is a time for rest, spring for fresh starts, summer for growth and fall for letting go.
As you plan your goals and decide where to focus your attention, look at the calendar.
- Are you always trying to make big New Year’s resolutions, then abandoning them soon after? Try starting small with new goals in spring, then growing them in summer and reassessing in fall.
- Do you feel pressured to take vacation in summer but find you really can’t relax with so much going on? Could you find a way to divide your out-of-office time, so that you can take time to rest in winter?
- Does the hustle and bustle of the holidays stress you out? This one might not work for your family, but consider this: Could you make the December holidays a smaller celebration for your household, then have a big, energetic gathering with everyone in summer?
- If you struggle with exercise certain times of year, change things up! Stick with your runs and rides in summer (but beat the heat and go early), but swap them for long walks, yoga or tai chi during colder months.
Our favorite way to maintain a balanced life? By bookending your day with Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens and Hello Dreams™ sleep strips. With one pod, wake up to a better morning, fight fatigue with more than just caffeine (thanks to organic red ginseng extract), and experience sustained energy.*
Then, before bed, get ready to head off to dreamland with Hello Dreams™ sleep strips with Melatonin and Calm Down™ herbal blend. Keep them on your nightstand so they’re always in reach. Both products are made with a balanced life in mind – and they’re designed to work for your busy modern life.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.