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Balancing Acts: Keeping Work and Life in Equilibrium
In the fast-paced world that we live in today, it seems as though it’s hard to find enough time to do everything that needs to be done. Days at work are long, but too often don’t seem to be long enough… we bring home what we can’t finish and end up creating highly stressful situations for those around us. Even worse, it seems like medical science is constantly finding new problems that are caused by overworking and the stress that results from it. If only there were some way to reduce the effects of this stress and make life more work-friendly (and vice versa)…
Luckily, there are ways to negate the harmful effects of working too much… balancing life and work in a way that makes everything more harmonious. It can take a little getting used to at first, especially if you’re a “Type A” personality that is used to pushing and driving on to finish the project or complete the proposal.
Counteracting the Negative Effects of Stress
Of course, just because you work long hours every day or put in a lot of overtime doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be done in before your time by stress. There are a lot of methods that can be used to counteract the harmful effects of work-related stress and increase both your quality of life and the free time that you have available. The key to living a long and fruitful life is to learn to balance your life and your work, so that what time you have available to yourself is spent in the most enjoyable ways possible. Below are several ways that you can either decrease the harm that stress causes or free up more time for yourself (which in itself can decrease stress in your life.)
· Pets – Studies have shown that the simple act of petting a dog or cat can cause immediate and significant reductions in stress. Our animal friends have other stress-relieving benefits, as well… for instance, the sound of a cat’s purr is an excellent stress reliever, as is the act of playing with a dog or watching fish swim in a tank. Research has also shown that pet owners tend to live five to ten years longer on average than those people who don’t own pets.
· Schedule Family Time – Setting aside a specific time to spend with your family is a great way to reduce stress and make the most of the free time that you have. Ideas such as planning a “Family Game Night” or taking a weekly picnic to the park are gaining in popularity in many areas, and have been shown to not only reduce stress but also produce children who are more social and less likely to misbehave in adulthood. If you’re not married or don’t have any children, you don’t have to miss out… schedule time to spend with siblings or friends, just to enjoy each other’s company.
· Read – Set aside a little time each night to read. What you read doesn’t really matter… it can be a tabloid, a magazine, or a novel. The important thing is that you’re reading something because you want to do it instead of because you have to, and the act of reading for enjoyment tends to occupy your mind and release some of the pent-up frustrations and stresses of the day. As an added bonus, reading can increase your vocabulary, your reasoning skills, and your overall intelligence and outlook on life.
· Invest in a Filing Cabinet – It may not seem like much, but being organized can actually be a great stress reliever. File away pay stubs, tax returns, business receipts, and bills so that they’re easy to locate should you need them. Not only will this save you time should these records become needed, but the act of organizing can have a calming effect on the mind and reduce stress.
· Lifestyle Management – Lifestyle management is a growing trend that can greatly increase the amount of free time that you have. Lifestyle management agencies can perform a number of services for you so that you don’t have to, from running errands and paying bills to scheduling appointments and performing household tasks. Lifestyle management providers may perform different tasks than the ones listed, so be sure to find out what services an individual provider offers.
· Take a Vacation – One of the best ways to counteract the harmful effects of working too much is to take time away from work. Even taking a single week’s vacation once a year can increase your life expectancy, give you a more positive outlook, and generally make your quality of life much better than it was previously. Just make sure that you follow the cardinal rule of taking a vacation, whether you go on a trip or just stay at home: when you’re away from work, leave work behind and enjoy yourself.
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