Moderation. It’s not the sexiest subject but if you can nail it, you will find a lot of aspects of your life will become so much easier.
You don’t see too many articles discussing moderation because it’s considered a little dull. But I beg to differ. Yes, back in the day it was pretty bland because everyone was doing it – generally because they had no choice. But now, it’s easier to be extreme than it is to be moderate, so we need to train ourselves to do it for the first time.
At a super high level, moderation works in most things (work, relaxing, eating, exercise… spending) as it creates balance. You might run 15k today and end up working at a desk all day then going to the movies tomorrow. That’s cool. You might eat fresh, home cooked meals for a week then head out for a pizza night. Also cool.
Moderation. Easy right?
Nope. Well, yes it should be… but it’s not.
Thanks to technology and how we use this technology, we have access to almost everything 24/7.
Information, food, entertainment, work, social interaction… And not just access to it, an overabundance of it. We don’t fear running out of food in most places. We can visit multiple channels, stations or sites to ask for the news and get different stories from each.
We also have the ability to watch or interact with people 100% of the time. There’s always something on TV, there’s always someone online and you can always send someone a message.
Want to buy something but can’t afford it? That’s cool. Buy it on credit or pay it off for the next 8 weeks.
Theoretically that should be good, and in many ways it is. But the problem is, all of the stop points that had been around in the past to regulate our use have been removed. Which means we have had to learn to self regulate real fast.
No more, ‘oh no, that’s the end of the episode. I wonder what will happen next week.’ Now, we’re watching 4 seasons back to back before realising we need to be back in the office in 30 minutes and have no idea where the long weekend went.
And, not only are the stopping points removed, through emails, notifications, reminders and our phone buzzing us, we’re consistently being redirected and encouraged to keep going.
So, that’s the challenge. We have the ability and are being encouraged to over consume, almost everything.
Another aspect of this is to swing in dramatic directions of under and over consuming – deprivation and excess.
Rather than finding balance, some people are turning to extreme measures, for example, over training and under socialising. This may be due to the impression that it is healthier or to help find a place or purpose.
While some of these more extreme measures may seem healthier for you body, mind or spirit they may be adding more stress and unnecessary pressure to your life and health.
Remember, not everything needs to be serious all of the time – having fun is really important too!
Balance is key, and to get balance you need to master moderation.
Here are 4 easy ways to start:
Set yourself a reasonable limit
For example, decide on a reasonable time limit for activities (like screen time), set an alarm and stick to it!
As much as you love your job, you also need to limit the number of hours you work each day. Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily make you any more productive and you’re sacrificing important family, social and you time.
And taking time away from work to experience other things and give yourself headspace actually makes you more effective!
Try to have a consistent start and finish time and stick to it wherever possible. Of course ‘things happen’ and there will be days when this isn’t possible, but just make sure that it is the exception rather than the rule.
If you get lots done outside of regular hours, pick 1 or 2 times a week to do it so it doesn’t become a daily thing. Or if you work best in a more ‘blended’ fashion, make sure that you’re investing enough time in to each aspect of your life.
Another example is a reasonable portion size for food, by dishing out into servings. Pack any leftovers out into separate portioned containers. This means you get leftovers for lunch (yum!) or if you decide to eat more, you’re actually making a conscious decision to do so, rather than having an “oops” moment as your hand hits the empty bottom of a bag (…as I have experienced a number of times before 😳)
Similarly, having a reasonable portion size served out separately will allow you to recognise if you’re not eating enough. Being busy means we’re often eating on the fly, which could mean grabbing a handful or this or a bite of that. Which means you really can’t make sure that you’re getting the nutrition that you need. Or, you might be so hectic that the day flies by and before you know it, it’s 8pm and you haven’t eaten since breakfast.
It’s easy to over do everything when we’re not paying attention, so create your own ‘stop points’ to make you more mindful and allow yourself the opportunity to choose whether you stop or continue.
Have a productive ‘go-to’
Find a go-to activity that’s productive and/or a positive investment in yourself, such as an art, learning something new, or reading. It’s handy to have a couple of options.
When you’re bored or procrastinating – do one of these rather than mindlessly defaulting to a ‘time wasting’ activity or doing more work.
If you genuinely want to watch TV, online shop, check Instagram or keep working – of course go for it! But to have other options on hand to choose from means that you’re more likely to split your time between chill out, work and personally productive activities which will create balance.
Again, it creates an opportunity for you to consider the best choice for you rather than defaulting to something unintentionally.
When you’re mindful you’re making conscious decisions and are aware of how you’re feeling. When you’re present it’s easier to identify when you’re ‘full’ and need to stop.
Enjoy life and don’t feel guilty
Emotions and mindlessness are the major culprits when it comes to excess or deprivation. Practicing mindfulness addresses one of those, but recognising your emotions and what they trigger takes the same amount of work.
The biggest tip… life is meant to be enjoyed! Don’t restrict yourself due to feelings of guilt and then over indulge when your emotions take over.
By enjoying a reasonable measure of something and not feeling badly about it, you’re less likely to binge or deprive yourself when you’re tired, bored, stressed or emotional – whatever that ‘something’ might be.
Likewise, if you do – don’t beat yourself up about it! Take a step back to see why you did, so that you can recognise this in future and give yourself the opportunity to self regulate next time.
We’re all human, there are times when we’re awesome at following our plans are there are times when we go off track a bit. It’s all fine and normal.
When we let go of guilt we are in a much more positive headspace which allows us to see what happened, why and if there is anything we want to change or realign. When we hold onto guilt, we’re more likely to overcompensate and send our balance off whack.
Listen and trust yourself and you won’t go wrong!
Do you find balance and moderation easy to achieve?