There is no shortage of causes of stress in today’s busy lifestyle. The percentage of employees reporting work-related burnout grew from 39 percent to 53 percent between 1995 and 1998, according to an Aon Consulting survey. Whether generated by job, family or community obligations, stress can trigger physical problems such as heart disease, rash and digestive trouble. It also can cause what one author describes as the “general erosion of spirit.”
Avoiding all stressful situations may be an obvious solution, but it is not a practical one. Many of the sources of stress cannot be fully eliminated. While we cannot rid ourselves of workplace stress or family needs, we can adjust the time we give ourselves.
Here are some effective ways to diminish stress and derive more balance in your life:
You cannot do it all: Set limits and simplify. Step back to assess how you spend your time and consider how you can set parameters. Limit-setting is a healthy way to set your priorities and to determine realistic expectations. The benefits can be numerous: You pare down demands to manageable steps while taking charge of your time in a proactive way.
You should not do it all: Share the load. Whether at work or at home, consider what tasks on your plate could be shared. Are co-workers, associates or interns available to share the workload? Create a plan and suggest it to your manager. Offering a solution is more effective than merely presenting a problem. On the home front, consider the ways household members can pitch in. Hold a family discussion to get everyone’s thoughts about how work can be shared. Getting input moves the issue from your shoulders to a shared responsibility. Do not forget to include children in the process. Learning to assume responsibility for one’s living space is a valuable life skill.
Give yourself space: Make time for personal time. Allowing yourself some personal time can be a challenge, but it is critical to your well-being. The amount of time is less important than how you choose to spend the time. Exercising, visiting with a friend or reading a book can be rejuvenating. It offers needed perspective as a reminder that you are more than an employee, co-worker, spouse, parent, adult child, community member, sibling or friend.