Stress can often times feel suffocating. It destroys relationships with both friends and family, and can leave you uninspired, and even hopeless. Don't let the stresses of work take over your life. With some simple steps you can detach your mind and body from work so that you can live a simpler, less stressful life when you go home to your family.
Make Home Feel Like Home
Don't let your home become a work space. That's what your office is for. Don't let your house become cluttered with projects, papers, invoices, and documents. These work-related items are constant reminders of what you've worked on or what you need to do tomorrow and in the coming weeks. With those reminders come stress and the thought of the future or past. Stay in the present by eliminating these reminders.
Boundaries and compartmentalizing things can help, as well. When I used to work from home, I used a spare bedroom as an office. This helped in a couple of ways - first, I was able to keep all my work-related stuff in that room so it didn't intrude into the rest of the house. Second, it provided a physical boundary that helped enforce the separation - when I went into that room, I was "at work" and when I left I was "at home." That kept me from working all the time, and also helped my family because they knew when I was available for home things and when I wasn't. Tricks like this help ensure that you feel at home when you aren't supposed to be working.
If home still doesn't relax you, consider treating yourself to an act of self appreciation. Live a little with a gourmet gift basketfull of chocolates, cookies, or even some spa accessories, if you're a fan of baths.
De-stress Your Schedule
Most people don't schedule in downtime. Their daily planners or Google Calendars are filled with appointments, deadlines and obligations. Nowhere does it say spend a night out, or relax with a drink and watch a movie, or simply read. Schedule time for your hobbies, interests, time with the kids, or even volunteering. Selfless acts such as this can make you feel like something larger, and take your mind off the negative aspects of your own life.
Balance doesn't mean an equal amount of work and relaxation. Balance is achieved within the mind as much as with your schedule and actions. Meditation is a skill that can be learned and when learned is a practice of acceptance of the way things are, rather than the way you wish things were. A healthy habit of meditation, especially when you first wake in the morning, can start your day off right so you lead a more balanced day, even while at work. Studies have concluded those who meditate often respond better to stress, both physically and mentally.
I used to think that meditation was not for me, and was skeptical of its value. That has changed and I'm now a convert. Meditation isn't some new-age, religious kind of thing to me - it is a great way to slow down, focus, and mentally recharge.
If you're skeptical about meditation, or simply don't know where to start, Headspace is an accessible and friendly place to start with a free 10 day trial that introduces the basics of meditation. If you find this isn't enough, there is a subscription option that unlocks a plethora of guided meditations that focus on everything from stress and anxiety to creativity and relationships.
Physical activity is proven to relieve stress. It pumps up your endorphins, which make you feel better and be generally happier. Exercise can take many forms. While the feel-good endorphins exercise releases are known as a runner's high, any exercise can give you the same effect. This includes a game of soccer, some ultimate-Frisbee, or a brisk, 20-minute walk around the block. Of course exercise is always more fun with a friend. Seek encouragement and partnership if motivation is a large obstacle for you - a workout buddy not only makes things more fun, it introduces some peer pressure that makes it more likely you actually go out and do something.
From my posts here, you may also realize that I'm a fan of exercise tracking gadgets. Not only do they help you track exercise and sleep, many of them can also notice when you've been sedentary for too long and remind you to get up, get out, and move around. That is a great way to make sure you don't get too focused on work and forget to take care of your physical health.
What about you - have you discovered techniques that help you lead a more balanced life? Leave a comment with your insights.