Why Am I So Stressed? The Secret Behind Work/Life Balance

Work/Life Balance – No, you cannot have it all.  The Onion jokingly implies that the only way to achieve effective work/life balance is to not have a job.

Why?  Because, for many of us, the notion of work-life balance means that if we just organize ourselves and set some boundaries, we can have it all.  We can advance our careers at lightning speed, impress our managers and clients with our incredible drive, and still get home in time to make diner for the kids, have an adult conversation with our loved ones, and end the day with a bubble bath.  Many people are putting in extra hours, or using their smartphones to be on call when they’re not physically at work.  A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work.  They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours. 

Here’s the thing.  With only 24 hours in the day (and less if you are to get anywhere near the amount of sleep you need), there just isn’t enough time to have it all – all of the time – and do it all perfectly.  Thinking that if you spend enough time you will “get everything done” is an illusion.  You will never be “done”. 

It is not having it all that is stressing you out.  It is thinking you can in the first place. Research shows that the happiest people are busy – but don’t feel rushed.  Instead of trying to have it all, focus on doing what you can do, the best way you can.  That means deciding what (and who) is most important to include in your life right now, and what (and who) needs to be let go.  For now.  Everything is not equally important.  You have to start with knowing what matters most to you and drawing a line.  Focus your time and attention on things you can control.

Take Back Your Day: 5 Tips to Reduce Your Stress

  1. Give yourself permission to not have it all and enjoy everything you do decide to do. Build downtime into your schedule.  Make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends and activities that help you recharge. 
  2. Drop activities that sap your time and energy.  Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value.  Take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them. If someone else can do the laundry at home, let them do it.  If someone else can do the filing at work, let them do it.
  3. Rethink your errands.  Outsource your groceries on line.   Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at home or the office.  Even if you’re on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you’ll save will make it worth it.
  4. Get moving.  Make time for exercise – it will boost your energy level and your ability to concentrate.
  5. Remember a little relaxation goes a long way, meaning set realistic goals, like leaving the office earlier one night a week.

You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.  All this work/life balance stuff.  It just needs to go. 

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