Striking the Work-Life Balance

Have you found yourself working late and spending your off-the-clock time doing work-related activities (like replying to work emails or prepping work for the next day)? If so, it may be time to reconsider where to draw the boundary between your work life and your personal life.

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re vying for a promotion, trying to earn a raise, or managing an ever-increasing workload. But when you spend most of your time working, your home life will take a hit—resulting in added stress, fatigue, and lost time with your family and friends.

Try these tips to take control of your work-life and regain the you-time needed to feel your best, both on and off the job:

• Track where your time goes.Work is an endless well. There will always be more for you to do if you’re looking for it. Start taking note of your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Where is most of your time spent? Can you delegate the extra work you’re taking on? If so, take that option.

• Practice saying no.This simple word is the key to your sanity. Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project, or your boss asking for you to do “just one quick favor” when you’ve already worked overtime the past four days, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. You’ll have more time for the activities that are meaningful to you when you learn to stop feeling guilty over not taking on more responsibilities.

• Take advantage of your options. Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting, or other scheduling flexibility. The more control you have over your hours, the less stress you’ll feel.

• Leave work at work.Reinforce the boundary between work and home by refusing to check your work email or opening your laptop after you leave the office. Instead, fully invest yourself in the time you spend with your loved ones and unwinding from the long day.

• Manage your time.Don’t save household chores and errands solely for your day off. Instead, organize them in batches throughout the week so you don’t feel as though you trade one kind of workday for another. Simply do what needs to be done and let the rest go.

• Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get a little physical activity in your day, and catch your beauty sleep. And be sure each day you do something you love, such as curl up with a great book or practice yoga. Remember your well-being is just as important as your work demands and deadlines. Treat it accordingly.

What are some ways you maintain the work-life balance?

 

How to Reduce Stress During the Holiday Season

According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans already take medication for stress-related causes each week, and the holidays only tend to perpetuate anxiety. Even if you’re one of the lucky people who don’t ordinarily feel stressed under the pressure of deadlines or events, the holidays have a way of sneaking stress into the most carefree lives.

There are your children’s wish lists to tackle, the holiday expenses to wrangle, the gifts to wrap, parties to plan, cookies to bake and cards to write—all in addition to your normal responsibilities.

Don’t let stress ruin your holidays. Here are some quick tips for how to keep calm during the bustling festivities:

1. Take some “you” time. If there were ever a time to get a massage, this is it. Book one for December to diffuse the chaos of last-minute frenzies. If you’d rather stay in, pamper yourself with a little dark chocolate and red wine—and for solidarity, invite your best friend over to enjoy a much-needed break.

2. Focus on fitness. Not only is exercise  good for the body, but it also releases endorphins that make you feel happier and more content. Frustrated that you couldn’t find that impossible gift for your niece? Take it on the treadmill! You’ll burn calories, improve your state of mind, and give yourself some time to gain perspective. Remember, a fast-paced walk through the mall also counts as an aerobic activity!

3. Volunteer. Consider volunteering at a local charity. In addition to benefitting from what experts identify as “helpers’ high,” you may also meet new friends and make lasting connections that will enrich your life throughout the entire year.

4. Rethink gift giving. Streamline the hectic process of gift giving by buying fewer gifts, doing all your shopping online, or making modest online donations to the favorite causes of friends and family. No matter what the catalogues tell you, the best gift you can give is your time—so spend it with your family and friends and relish every minute of it.

5. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Remember, you can always say “no.” Consider this an absolute necessity for protecting your health and sanity during the holidays. As a bonus, it works well the rest of the year, too! Stay positive, anticipate happiness, and you’ll make it through the holidays with the right attitude in place for the coming year.

What are some ways you combat your holiday stress?

7 Ways to Beat Stress

stress reliefStress adversely affects every aspect of your life, from your health to your relationships. Many people don’t realize how stressful their lives are, and they don’t know how to deal with or reduce their stress. Let’s explore seven ways to improve your life by beating stress.

Determine your stressors.

We all have different areas of our lives that cause stress. While you may not be able to change stressful situations, by identifying your stressors, you can develop a plan to deal with them as effectively as possible. For example, if work causes stress, you can go to the gym after work to release tension with a workout, or leave the building for lunch to get away from your desk for a few minutes.

You might be able to change your response to stressors by altering the situation to make it easier to bear. For example, if visiting the doctor during the day is stressful because you need to go to work afterward, perhaps you can meet the doctor in the evening or on a weekend day. If you become agitated during rush hour traffic, try a new route or travel at a different time.

Avoid people, places, and things that upset you.

We all have people who make us uncomfortable or tasks we dislike doing. When those aggravations become stressful, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Rethink whether it’s necessary to have dinner with the neighbor who criticizes your cooking. Perhaps it makes sense to find an accountant to do your taxes or a detailer to wash your car. Delegating tasks and avoiding stressful people not only reduce your stress, but they also give you a marvelous feeling of freedom.

Know your limits.

Be realistic about your time and what you can do, and say no when you need to. When you’re at your limit, additional items on your to-do list become stressors. Stand your ground and be assertive when you need or want to say no.

Give yourself a treat.

Integrative therapies such as massage, reflexology, and aromatherapy help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relax you. They’re also fun and rejuvenating. Find a certified practitioner or visit a spa, keep an open mind, and give it a try.

Turn off the noise.

Unplug and spend at least 30 minutes alone and quiet every day. We’re all bombarded by technology and advertising, and it’s overwhelming. When you get away from the constant noise, you’ll feel your stress melt away. Spend that time doing what you enjoy, whether it’s a walk or a hot bubble bath. Unwind and enjoy.

Tune out negativity.

Do you really need to watch the 10 pm newscast each night or read the paper every day?  The news is mostly negative, which raises your stress levels. Your mind doesn’t need any more input on weather disasters or the latest political upheavals around the world. Don’t take on the world’s problems as your own. Rather than watch the news, find a comedy or cartoon to watch. Better yet, turn off the TV and read a book.

Experiment to find your best release.

Some women relieve stress by laughing or crying, and others find exercise or art to be their release valve. You may need to try a few different outlets to relieve stress, such as watching classic TV comedies, renting a movie that makes you cry, painting, or going to the gym. You may find one perfect stress reliever, or you may decide a combination of activities helps.

As you work through your stress, stay positive. Negativity is an unhealthy stressor and can creep into areas of your life that aren’t stressful. An upbeat attitude will do wonders to combat stress and help you feel healthy and at your best.

What do you do to combat stress?