THE SCIENCE OF BALANCE

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Monday was my 30th birthday and such milestones usually come with contemplation. Thoughts with impact, such as…should I be using face serum now? And…did my right breast drop an inch overnight?

As I ate my lunch, I googled my star sign for fun. I’m a Libra, the zodiac represented by a set of scales. The Libran is always striving for balance and harmony in her life. She is often frustratingly indecisive…

This got me thinking of my own search for balance. A journey that has proven to be just as elusive as the road to contentment…. got it!…wait, shit I lost it.

This month at work I was tasked with reviewing current clinical literature. As I read about body tissue I realised that balance is not just something we strive for in our everyday lives – work/life, home/away, other/self, good with a little bad. Balance is happening at a cellular level inside us at all times. We are biologically wired for it. To be chronically out of alignment can be harmful.

When recovering from lack of oxygen in the body, sometimes we swing too far in the opposite direction and create reactive oxygen species that are detrimental to our cells. We have immune and inflammatory responses designed to protect us against trauma and infection, but in high doses, can cause loss of tissue function and contribute to disease. We have receptors that detect changes in our blood, setting off a chain reaction that prepares our body for fight or flight – a response that over time, can lead to high blood pressure. Our ill-health forces us to re-group.

It is all a delicate balance. We survive by the mantra: Just enough – but not too much.

My birthday had me considering things other than my eye wrinkles and free radical cellular degeneration. I thought about the pendulum swing we often do as we search for our centre point. Red meat or vegan, to love or to isolate, overworked or under-challenged, a life of chaos or boredom – until we find our ‘happy’ medium.

For me, I think this constant search for balance and the desire to always make the right decision is a waste of energy. It’s another excuse to be hard on myself when things go a little skew-whiff.

I have hope that during those times when the scale tips – when one side slams down and we are well and truly thrown off balance – that these are our pivotal moments. It is the part of the story in which the protagonist faces the test of her resilience. After which she sails off in the opposite direction in search of distant and beautiful skies.

Temporarily letting go of the need for constant balance and allowing what is goes against the evolutionary status quo, but it can make way for much-needed change and wisdom. Through our upheavals and off-centre slips, our personal harmony and the answers we seek, will find us.

So off I trot into my gorgeous 30’s, and I think I shall start to embrace and enjoy the periods of imbalance that shake me up from time to time. Because at the end of the day, we are biologically wired to find level ground again. It’s science, baby.

Currently Listening to: Alessia Cara – Here

Much love XX

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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