Women are busy these days. Between full-time careers and raising families, it’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed with commitments, family activities, and dealing with the other adults in your life (you know, bosses, husbands…)
Chronic stress is a huge risk factor for health problems, including headaches, depression and anxiety, digestive problems, obesity, and even heart disease. The key isn’t completely eliminating stress, but finding a way to manage it.
Some Stress is Good
We all have both good and bad stressors in our lives – stressors are the causes of strain, tension, or stress. The good ones energize you and push you to do better like making a goal time while running a marathon. You know you’ll feel great if you accomplish it, so you push yourself even though the tasks leading up to it may be stressful, like taking time to run harder and faster every day. However, good stressors can also become overwhelming at times.
Bad stressors drain you, like going to a job every day that you hate or being stuck in traffic on the way home every night. These types of stressors leave you feeling unhappy, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Bad stressors are the ones we need to either reduce or learn to manage better.
Here are Ten Ways to Help Balance Home and Work and Manage Your Stress
Evaluate your Stressors – Take a look at all your obligations, both home and work, and see which are good stressors and which are having a negative impact on your life.
If your job is causing you too much stress, it might be time to look for a new one. Alternatively, see if your employer can adjust your hours, allow you to work from home one day a week, etc. Maybe carpooling is better than driving every day.
Are too many home obligations causing your stress? Having three kids in four different activities while also working a full-time job can be very stressful. Kids need activities, but try putting them in the same one, like karate or find another parent to split the driving with.
Get Organized – Once you know which stressors you can and can’t live without, it’s time to put everything into perspective. Make a schedule you can live with. Make sure that everyone’s activities and obligations are put into a list or calendar. Having it all in front of you is a good way to see if you can make some adjustments to your schedule, and also to see where you have free time. Make the most of it.
Leave Work at Work – This can be difficult since work can follow you home on your email and smartphone. Try looking at it the say: your job prefers you not bring your home problems to work, right? It works both ways. Make at least part of your day when you get home off-limits for work and enjoy your home and family.
Invest in yourself – Allow yourself time to relax and unwind. This can be a physical investment like taking up a hobby or exercise class, or just taking some time for yourself a few times a week. Have dinner with a friend or take a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine. If you’re not happy, how can you make the ones you love happy?
Make time for your loved ones – Schedule movie nights where you make popcorn together and snuggle on the sofa. This works if you have kids, too. Find time and ways to enjoy those around you in a relaxing environment.
Just Say No – Don’t over commit yourself or your family, as this will only add to your stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Take a look at that schedule you created. If it’s not manageable, look for something to eliminate. You don’t have to be super mom and volunteer for every school activity. Don’t let a sense of obligation leave you feeling like you have too much on your plate.
Give Everyone a Chore – Sometimes women can take on too much, and that includes taking care of everything at home. Share the wealth of daily chores with others in the household. Put everyone’s list of chores on the schedule.
Have a Meal Together – With everyone’s busy schedule, mealtimes don’t always coincide. However, it’s important to find time to share your day together. Try and have at least one night a week when the whole family can have dinner together, even if it’s pizza on the couch, or Chinese takeout in the dining room on the good dishes.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Lack of sleep can add to stress, as you may be less alert and able to cope with the day’s challenges. It’s important for everyone to get enough shuteye. You’ll feel better in the morning and more able to take on the new day.
Take Time to Smell the Coffee, or Roses – Everyone needs down time, even if you think you’re too busy. Set aside 15 minutes every day to relax. Take a morning walk before you head to the office. Read the newspaper while you enjoy a cup of coffee. Read a book at the end of the day or read a book to your kids. Do something that relaxes you.
There are many small things you can do to help balance work and home life. The most important is to try and separate the two, at least some of the time. Make a schedule and organize your time into small, manageable chunks.
Remember, the most important thing is to make time for yourself and those you love.