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Art of health: Have respect for the margins in life

By: Ginger Klein Special to The Gazette
August 20, 2013 Updated: August 20, 2013 at 8:55 am
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You won't have to look far to find someone who is overloaded physically, mentally or emotionally.

Perhaps you even can find evidence of overload in your home - books that were purchased with the intent to get one of these areas under control, magazines with dog-eared pages that promise to de-clutter or simplify, lists that are written and rewritten with the expectation that when this combination of tasks is complete, then you will be able to stop and relax.

Dr. Richard Swenson has described overload as "margin-less" living. This terminology conjures an image of a piece of notebook paper with a margin clearly defined by a thin, red vertical line. Was it second grade when we learned to not write in the margin? Likewise, every life should have a "margin," a place that isn't overflowing with opportunities, tasks and responsibilities.

If you've extended yourself, it's likely there's no one pressuring you to take back the margin in life. In fact, there might be considerable pressure to add to your duties and you might be trying to figure out how to accomplish that.

The problem with marginless living is that it doesn't leave room for the necessary recharging of the brain, spirit or body. Or if something in the well-oiled machinery of tasks that are completed daily in your household goes wrong (a car repair, a sick child, a friend in need), then there is no room to attend to those things comfortably without disaster - or something that feels close to it - ensuing.

As we wrap up summer and possibly change the routine of life, it might be a good time to reclaim the margin that you gave away some time ago. As you develop routines and schedules and decide where to focus your time and energy, being intentional can be helpful in keeping those things manageable and sustainable.

Try to find activities that suit more than one purpose. For example, the practice of martial arts offers both fitness (as well as myriad other physical and mental benefits) and spending time with children. Another example is cooking dinner as a family, allowing for time spent together and perhaps with the added benefit that it gets dinner on the table with a little less trouble. And who wouldn't welcome a little help with dinner?

Happy margin hunting as you begin to think about embarking on a new season and changing responsibilities.

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Klein is a first-degree black belt in taekwondo and practices at the U.S. Taekwondo Center, serving the region for 26 years. For more information, call 488-4321.

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