The name of this brand — Doublesolid — evokes the principle of balance. It refers to the twin yellow lines that run down the center of a busy, sometimes lonely, road. I chose the name because balance is very important to me personally. Vital, actually. Living with bipolar disorder, I need to make a conscious effort to stabilize my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. For me, it’s a matter of life or death, so I’m kind of serious about it.
Balance might not mean to you as much as it means to me, but it is nevertheless a major part of your mental health. According to a blog post by Luna Greenstein at the NAMI website, “maintaining balance throughout our lives is a cornerstone of overall well-being. Balance prevents stress, and we all know stress causes adverse health effects and leads to 75-90% of all physician visits.”
Balance requires vigilance. You need to watch your thoughts and feelings and know when they are drifting out of bounds. And then you need to bring them back. I know it sounds like a tautology, but the best way to achieve balance is to live in a balanced way. I have learned four general rules that help me to balance my life, and I want to share them as tips in case they might be useful to you.
1. Take Care of Yourself
We all know the basics of taking care of your body: eat well, exercise, relax when you need to, and get enough sleep. Protecting your health is not the only way to take care of yourself. Here’s a self-care tool that is often overlooked: the word “no.” You should deploy it when someone asks you to do something that will take time away from your own priorities. You don’t have to be rude. In fact, here’s a web page full of techniques for saying “no” with compassion and grace.
2. Unplug from Social Media
Social media thrives on engagement, and the most reliable way to engage you is to enrage you. This isn’t just anecdote. Research has shown for some time that people tend to be radicalized when they are in like-minded groups. Social media intensifies this tendency partly because it makes like-minded groups so much larger. Needless to say, radicalized people are not balanced people. Being out of balance is pretty much the whole point of being radical. So use social media sparingly and carefully, and don’t use it as your primary news source.
3. Help Others
Helping others can give you meaning and purpose. It enriches your life. And there are so many opportunities to help. Places of worship, schools, and charitable organizations all make use of volunteer help. Putting in a couple hours a week at a local food bank can be enormously satisfying. Working as a volunteer at a race can be as exciting as running in one. Mapping a habitat or doing a bird count for a conservation group can put you on the frontline of the battle to save endangered species.
4. Get Help When You Need It
Leading a balanced life takes effort, and sometimes it needs more effort than you have to give on your own. If you think your thoughts or feelings are straying from your Doublesolid path, ask for help. Counseling by a licensed mental health professional really works. Here’s a page at WebMD that gives a good rundown of the kinds of counselors there are, as well as some advice on how to find and use one.
Balance isn’t just a noun. It’s a verb, too. The dictionary that came with my computer defines it as “keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.” If you understand that you are the something in this definition, it’s an excellent comment on the importance of balance. And I am a testament to the value of balance. Without working as hard as I do to attain balance, I wouldn't be here to share this with you today.
Take note on your moods throughout the day. Note how balanced your do or don't feel. What is affecting the ebb and flow? What can you do to balance out a bit more?
Start paying attention and you will learn more about who you are. As you do, you will learn how to better support yourself, keeping that balance and staying in the middle of the road, you know, like DOUBLESOLID!
Cover art by Chad Wheeler, tattooist and resident artist @singleneedle