When you make a list of people who need your attention today, who's at the top of your list? Is it your boss? Your spouse or partner? Your kids? Your clients? Your co-workers? Your parents?
If you're under a great deal of stress, chances are that you don't even make it onto your own list—much less to the top. Over time, a refusal to take care of your own emotional and physical health can exhaust your ability to care for anyone or anything.
Managing Stress and Self-Care
In order to manage stress, that's got to change—and it won't happen accidentally. Self-care has to be a priority and you need to set specific daily goals.
Each morning ask yourself, "In what ways am I going to take care of myself today?" If you decide to exercise or practice deep breathing, make a plan for when, where and for how long you'll do it. If you don't add specific self-care items to your list of things to do, chances are they won't get done.
Here are a few tips for carving out time to create work/life balance:
- Seek out hobbies, activities and exercise and commit to them
- Budget money for "leisure balancing" purposes
- Be proactive in planning for volunteer activities
- Practice saying, "No," and follow through with it
- Identify unhealthy patterns and make a conscious effort to change
There are also simple ways to reduce stress at work and at home. You don't have to everything on these lists or do them all on day one—shoot for progress rather than perfection.
Managing Stress at Work
- Delegate where possible—and become comfortable with it.
- Put limits on when and where you can check office email.
- Turn off your cell phone when possible.
- Compliment your boss when he or she helps you balance.
- Recognize that your work role is not your only identity.
- Close your office door when necessary.
- Recognize that you are a role model for others.
- Embrace your decision to work and look for the positives related to working.
- Accept your style or make an effort to change it.
- Negotiate deadlines when possible with your supervisor.
- Leave your desk for lunch and breaks.
Managing Stress at Home
- Delegate tasks at home and commit to holding others accountable for follow-through.
- Adjust your expectations for yourself and others as changes in the family occur.
- Re-evaluate your standards periodically.
- Schedule time with your spouse or partner.
- Support your partner's stress management activities and request the same in return him or her.
- Limit children's activities to a reasonable level.
- Simplify where possible.
- Set realistic expectations of yourself and others.
- Set aside time or create a ritual that helps you make the transition from work to home.