Whole Balance: What is Mental & Physical Balance? And How do I get it?

Updated: Jan 1


By Dr. Kim Byrd-Rider, PT, DPT


Physical Balance and Work-Life (ecological) Balance

Balance in all of its forms is critical to us. Balance is considered by many global philosophies to be a Universal Truth because nature and the universal itself always seek and always find physical and ecological balance. Why shouldn’t humans be the same?

Here at Firm Water Road, ALL of our physical activities courses contribute to each of the process listed below to improve your physical balance. ALL of our positive psychology courses contribute to work-life mental balance as well. Whole balance is necessary to thrive and Firm Water Road supports thriving.


Physical Balance

There is no physical difference between you and a tight rope walker. He does not have a super power for standing on a rope. The only difference is that he practices balancing. You too can improve your balance.

Our balance is a symphony of sensory input to the brain. The instruments in this orchestra are the vestibular system (inner ear), vision, muscle strength, and proprioception skills. Attention or mental focus can effect balance, too. Please read this linked page to find out more about proprioception https://www.verywellhealth.com/proprioception-2696141 because proprioception can be learned and improved. Strength, of course, can greatly be improved as well. This means your balance capabilities can grow at any age by simply improving your strength and proprioception skills.

Proprioception is a constant feedback loop between the central nervous system and proprioception receptors found in body tissues: muscles, tendons, joints, and skin. These proprio-ceptors report joint load, position, and movement to the brain and spinal cord. The vestibular (inner ear), visual (eyesight), and proprioception systems all deliver information to the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). Then, that collective data is synthesized into decisions about exactly where you are in space: body position, acceleration, and movement. Once that decision is made the central nervous system decides how to react, counteract, or contribute to this positioning. This is constantly going on and happens in milliseconds. Even this process can be sped up and improved with training. The amount of time for this communication loop to operate can also be called reaction time. Race car drivers along with most professional athletes practice drills to speed up their reaction times, helping them improve at their sport.

Please read more about balance in this peer reviewed journal article from Clinical Rehabilitation (2000)

https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1026.91&rep=rep1&type=pdf


Pollock AS, Durward BR, Rowe PJ, Paul JP. What is balance? Clin Rehabil. 2000 Aug;14(4):402-6. doi: 10.1191/0269215500cr342oa. PMID: 10945424.


Work-Life (ecological) Balance

How do you know if you have a work-life balance? Well, of course, science has a definition from a peer reviewed journal article in 2021 just for you. You can measure yourself with the criteria they have outlined. The article abstract is quoted here and you are welcome to read the entire article here https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-012420-061833#article-denial

Rothbard, N. P., Beetz, A. M., & Harari, D. (2021). Balancing the Scales: A Configurational Approach to Work-Life Balance. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 8, 73-103.


Abstract:

“Work-life balance is a topic eliciting much attention and scholarship. Yet what scholars mean by work-life balance is wide-ranging. This review focuses on work-life balance scholarship published primarily between 2000 and 2020. To understand what constitutes balance, we integrate this research with work on enrichment and depletion, two constructs that contribute to work-life balance. We identify four configurations of enrichment and depletion that undergird different levels of work-life balance: (a) low enrichment and high depletion (no balance), (b) low enrichment and low depletion (minimal balance), (c) high depletion and high enrichment (balance), and (d) low depletion and high enrichment (balance/flourishing). We examine how other factors, such as cognitive and behavioral factors, other individual differences, and organizational factors, relate to enrichment, depletion, and work-life balance. We conclude with future research directions and practical implications, urging scholars and practitioners to consider novel work-life concerns from the lenses of enrichment and depletion.”


Summary

A good portion of your whole balance in controllable and completely up to you. Practice you physical balance skills and strengthening. Drive up your enrichment input. Find ways to lower depletion. We specialize in this at Firm Water Road.