Holding on to Balance When Life Gets “Tippy”

holding onto balance

It isn’t easy holding on to balance when life starts to tip out of control, or at least feel like it.  You know those weeks that are especially challenging, when the days seem endless and it feels like all you can do to just get to Friday night?  The weeks with multiple ups and downs, and really tough disappointments? The emotional roller coaster of exhaustion and overwhelm, and feeling just spent. Life feels overwhelming and it’s easy to wonder if you can handle it.

You feel yourself teetering, trying hard to hold on to balance, and you don’t want to lose your footing. But this balancing act can seem almost impossible when life gets to feeling volatile.

We all need support and encouragement, and sometimes even a mindset overhaul. Here are a few mindset hacks to help you hold on to balance when life seems to be pushing you too far.

1. Tell yourself you can handle this, because you are. First of all, even if you think you can’t, you can handle this. Try using the mantra of, “I can handle this,” when doubt strikes. The anxiety that you are feeling is likely a signal for needed growth, but you are still handling this and there are many hours in a day, and many days in a week. It doesn’t have to all get done right now.

Even though life feels overwhelming, you are managing. Recognizing that you are coping, even if it isn’t graceful, can also allow you to shed a common secondary anxiety that comes along with stress: “I can’t handle this.” You may not want to, but you can.

2. Be careful where you pin your expectations: In the spirit of making stress as low as possible, look to limit high expectations, or any situation that tempts you to “get your heart set” on something over which you have limited control. Your hopes and dreams are precious commodities – be protective of them, and careful not to put them at unnecessary risk. Look to focus on realistic goals, informed by what is actually happening. Notice where you feel traction, and look to build expectations from there.

3. It’s okay to be disappointed. Even when you’re keeping expectations in check, disappointments will still happen, and no matter how small they are, they can still hurt. It hurts because we care. It’s ok to care, and it’s ok to be sad for a short while before moving forward. Life is a journey, and like a marathon, pace is critical. Do your best to stay moving so that you don’t get stuck on any one step, or disappointment, along the way.

4. Self-care is key. Our self-care can help keep us holding on to balance – especially during times of higher stress. The very times self-care is so sorely needed, and sometimes harder than we’d like. How are you sleeping? How is your nutrition? Are you hydrating and being mindful of caffeine or alcohol intake? Moving your body at all? Are power naps or power walking crossing your radar? Look to realign places that are out of balance to help boost your stamina. Not pressure, just gentle nudges.

5. Identify how you are overextending and pull back. When stress rears its head, most of us stretch to meet its demands. This is how we grow and get stronger. But when we stretch too much and avoid setting limits, especially at work, we risk a diminishing return on engagement. Perfection can lure us out of balance as well.

For many of us, saying no can be tough. How could you limit some of how you are overextending? Where could you claim more time, more space for you? How, and to whom, could you say “no” or “not now” with consequences you could live with? It is too tempting to say “no” and “not now” to our own needs in order to cope, and in the long run this is a recipe for burnout. While flexibility might be admirable, it can be an impediment to holding on to balance. Flexibility still needs to suit your own needs to be sustainable.

Sometimes, it’s when we are pulled off balance that we are reminded how to stand tall.

Life doesn’t care about our need for balance, and will keep coming at us. When life feels overwhelming, we are the only ones who can hold on to balance. We are the ones who get to choose and manage our lives so that it works for us.

Holding on to balance is how we learn to move forward in a sustainable way. Einstein once said, “Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Figuring out the best “moves,” and continuing to do them, is how we cultivate balance and resilience. Indeed it is only when we are pulled off balance that we are reminded how to stand tall.


Looking for more help to manage anxiety and cultivate balance when life feels too taxing? Check out my new book, Hack Your Anxiety, full of strategies and tips for making anxiety work for you.

Photos by Lisa Zoe on Jon Flobrant on Unsplash




Alicia H. Clark, PsyD


  1. Camille on June 15, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Love the final comment…. so often we respond rather than thinking about how to renegotiate. Essentialism is a new fav book …. and I”m still learning how to live this! Great Blog

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks Camille. I agree the last part is tough for all of us – thanks for the Essentialism shout out. Sounds like a great book.

  2. Shelley on August 3, 2019 at 3:40 am

    Thanks for inspiring me.