Consider Yourself To Be A Clumsy Person? Here's How To Gain Some Balance

If you're habitually stumbling, bumping into, or breaking things, you might consider yourself clumsy. But don't worry — clumsiness is more common than you think. A University Medical Center Groningen 2007 study found that one out of every 29 people has a 50% higher propensity to act clumsily. Clumsiness usually happens when you are forgetful, lack awareness of your surroundings, or your movements lack coordination. For some people, moments of clumsiness only occur when they're on a streak of bad luck. For the accident-prone ones, bruised skin, stolen belongings, and smashed dinnerware become a part of life. 

There are various causes for clumsiness. Additionally to being a symptom of sleep deprivation, worry, and stress, clumsiness can also be a side effect of drug and alcohol use. It can also be brought on by seizures, stroke, or deteriorating coordination due to aging. Regardless of the reason, nobody enjoys being a klutz. Making mistakes and getting into accidents because of clumsiness can take a toll on your confidence and affect your quality of life. Fortunately, you don't have to settle for being a walking disaster forever. There are ways to sharpen your focus and improve your coordination so you can have more control of the situation you're in and minimize everyday hazards. Here's how.

Take precautions to create a safe environment

If you're accident-prone, take precautions to create a safe environment in your residence. For example, if there's a lot of clutter in your home, which causes you to trip and fall often, put what you don't need in the storage room and only keep what you need in your living space. 

To keep your home more secure, install security alarms on your doors and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the kitchen and your bedrooms. If you are prone to forgetfulness, duplicate every key you own and store it in a secure location outside your home. Also, put all your vehicle keys, house keys, phones, and wallets in a box when you get home. Another way to avoid forgetting things is to download the Don't Forget It! app to your phone to set alerts to remind you to take important belongings before leaving home. 

If you break things often, replace chinaware with melamine or plastic. At the same time, put all the hazardous liquids and flammable stuff into a drawer outside the kitchen and keep it locked. To reduce the chance of a slip and fall that could cause serious injuries, apply an anti-slip coating to the floor and carpet the staircase for a softer landing. If you do not trust yourself with turning off heating devices before leaving home, install a home automation system that allows you to use your smartphone to control the system remotely. 

Work on your situational awareness

The core of situational awareness is vigilance. Good situational awareness lets you know what to do and what not to do in any given situation. You can better protect yourself and diminish the threat in your immediate surroundings. For instance, when going to a crowded place, you need situational awareness to know how to safeguard your belongings and ensure you're not in the way of any dangerous objects or sketchy people. 

To boost your situational awareness, make it a habit to take a moment to take stock of every object in your surroundings when you step into a room. When you're in a department store, for instance, do a quick scan and take a mental note of the access and exit points, the fire extinguishers, the elevators, and the windows. You should also observe people and watch out for unusual behaviors in those around you. If you sense something suspicious about someone, exit the place immediately and alert the police. 

Also, before going to a jammed-pack event like a festival or a place that you consider high-risk, practice picturing the worst-case scenarios and responding appropriately to those situations. Preparing for the worst is by no means sowing seeds of fear and inviting paranoia; knowing what to do in emergencies will help you become more confident and effective when they happen.

Practice mindfulness via meditation

If you're always forgetful and error-prone, you have much to gain from meditation. According to a 2019 study from Michigan State University (MSU), open monitoring meditation, a type of mindfulness meditation, alters brain activity to support mistake detection and reduce the tendency to make mistakes. Study co-author Jeff Lin says: "But it's amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators."

This meditation aims to increase the awareness and understanding of your thought processes, or metacognition. To perform open monitoring, practitioners must focus on the current moment and avoid getting distracted by their thoughts. For a start, find a quiet spot where you can relax and pull the plug on your racing thoughts. Then, take a deep breath and tune into the present moment in all awareness. Be mindful of your sensory experiences, like what you hear and smell and how the room feels, without evaluating or getting distracted by them. When your mind wanders, acknowledge it and let the distractions slip. When you're ready, exit the meditation. If you're new to meditation, you should seek guided sessions from mindfulness instructors or meditation apps. 

Slow down and smell the rose

Rushing increases your likelihood of making mistakes, and it causes you to lose focus on your surroundings, making it easier to trip, fall, or drop stuff. Not to mention that constantly rushing makes you stressed, which causes you to be more confused and prone to errors.  

Therefore, practice doing things slowly. Taking things slow starts with single-tasking. Nothing good can come from multitasking since it causes you to lose focus on what matters and burns you out before you can get anything done properly. Every day, list priorities and attend to them one at a time. 

Also, practice being present whenever possible to better connect with your immediate surroundings. For example, avoid looking at your phone or taking phone calls while walking, driving, or cooking. Distractions make you an easy target for accidents. When walking or driving, be mindful of your speed and give yourself ample time to get where you are going. Throughout the day, take several breaks to relax, clear your head, reflect on what didn't go right and think about how you may improve the remainder of the day.

Engage in exercises that promote balance and reaction time

Every daily task, from sitting to standing to walking, entails good balance. Balance exercises can help stabilize your body, improving body control and flexibility and preventing falls involving a loss of balance. When you have good balance, even if you stumble, you'll know how to regain equilibrium and avoid severe injury. Everyone, regardless of age and health conditions, can do balance training. The American Heart Association recommends that older persons at risk of falling perform standardized balance exercises three or more days per week.

A simple balance exercise that everyone can do is to stand on one leg for as long as they can before switching to the other one. You can also try walking heel to toe or walking in a straight line. Yoga and tai chi are also great for strengthening and extending the muscles for better balance. 

Aside from balance training, work on your reaction speed. Injuries are more frequent when the brain isn't reacting quickly enough to the emergency at hand. For example, when the hot oil from a sizzling pan starts splattering, your first reaction should be to place a large splatter shield over the surface to prevent excruciating burns. Engaging in exercises that enhance the brain's ability to process information quickly is crucial for improving reaction time. Playing tennis or kickboxing, for example, is an exciting way to develop peripheral vision, sharpen muscle memory, and improve reaction time.

Engage in strength training

If you constantly stumble, engage in strength or resistance training. Strength training aims to reinforce muscles, which are essential for improving walking speed, reducing fear of falling, and minimizing risks of falls. Lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and doing push-ups are some examples of strength training. 

A 2021 study published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that persons aged 60 and older who engaged in strength training for more than a year experienced substantial decreases in falls, fractures, hospitalization, and fatality. The most common intervention for avoiding falls in older individuals is multimodal exercise programs, including aerobic, strength, and balance training, albeit this is not the most time-effective approach. 

If you tend to be clumsy around vehicles, work on your neck and upper body flexibility, especially the muscles and movements of your neck. Simple exercises like a neck stretch or a towel shoulder rotation stretch improve driving posture and enhance your range of motion.

Get into dancing

If you always find yourself clumsy and uncomfortable in your movements, enroll in a dancing class. The more uncoordinated you are, the more qualified you are for dancing. Not only can dancing boost your motor fitness, but it can also train you to be fully mindful of how you move to minimize motor redundancy and accidents. In dancing, every move is supposed to be intentional and precise. You will stumble and fall in your first few dance classes, but soon your hands will start coordinating with your legs, and you'll get better. Once you get in the groove and flow with the routine from A-Z, you'll forget you're clumsy. 

Besides, dancing trains you to think and act fast, which is useful for visual perception and decision-making skills. You have to be mindful, but you need to seize the time lest you lose the beat and deviate from the routine. According to Harvard Medical School, researchers at Minot State University in North Dakota discovered that Zumba enhances mood and cognitive abilities in a short study conducted in 2012. Other studies show that dancing reduces stress, increases serotonin, improves long-term memory, and sharpens spatial awareness.

Hand-eye coordination

Hand-eye coordination, which is your ability to engage in activity simultaneously with your eyes and hands, is crucial to your situational awareness and overall safety. As your eyes absorb the information, your brain instructs your arms and hands to cooperate simultaneously. Examples of hand-eye coordination include when you're cooking, writing, driving, hunting, or playing a musical instrument. A cook's knife skill, an artist's ability to play an instrument while reading a music sheet, and a driver's ability to move the steering wheel away from an oncoming vehicle — all depend on their hand-eye coordination.

Unfortunately, our hand-eye coordination decreases with age. People with poor hand-eye coordination often make mistakes and struggle to perform certain tasks. To improve hand-eye coordination, engage in activities that use your hands and eyes concurrently, such as archery, martial arts, swimming, and knitting. Playing chess, darts, and video games can also train your eyes, brain, and hands to work together efficiently and effectively in a fast-paced situation. If you have underdeveloped visual-motor skills, consider seeking vision therapy to improve your condition. 

Adopt a healthy daily routine

Adopting an orderly lifestyle with wholesome habits is also essential in amplifying productivity. For instance, if you're habitually staying up late and waking up feeling tired and irritable, you'll feel sleepy during the day and struggle to focus on your tasks. Sleep deprivation can also lead to decreased balance.

According to a 2022 study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, a chronic lack of sleep or temporary jet lag can impair a person's balance control. Having trouble controlling your balance will make you feel shaky and lightheaded, whether standing, sitting, or walking. Therefore, make a point of getting enough quality sleep daily by maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule. 

It's recommended to avoid consuming a heavy meal, caffeine, or alcohol right before bedtime. Take all electronics out of your bedroom to prevent nighttime engagements and unwanted awakenings if possible. Regular exercise can also improve your sleep and keep your mind sharp. To avoid an after-lunch slump, eat smaller meals, go for a breezy walk, and take a nap to refresh your mind instead of diving into work immediately. Leading a consistent, healthy lifestyle will make you feel better and sharper and add years to your life.