For many people, work dominates life. Long hours and high stress may be a part of the scenario, but one that most feel comes with the territory of a demanding career that enables them to pay their bills and feed their families.
While that's an understandable concession to make, for many it's coming at a steep physical price. In a recent survey from Yale University, 29 percent of workers reported feeling "quite a bit or extremely stressed at work." When considering there are roughly 146 million workers across the country, that translates to around 40 million stressed out people. That's a sobering statistic, especially when uncontrolled stress greatly increases one's risk for heart disease and can weaken the body's immune system, leaving a person more susceptible to other ailments as well.
For the 40 million workers across the country feeling overly stressed, reducing stress is not a question of if it can be done, but how it can be done. For most people, reducing stress can be as simple as finding a better way to balance work and life.
* Determine your priorities: It's easy to get trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But what's the point of that hustle and bustle if you can't enjoy the things that matter most? While a life of leisure is probably not realistic until you retire, make a list of what your priorities truly are. A key element is determining what your current priorities are versus what you feel they should be. If you're working longer hours to pay for luxury items you don't need, chances are that's costing you time with your family. But when writing down your priorities, you'd almost certainly list family ahead of material things. So once you've reorganized those priorities, you can begin to positively change your behaviors so you're spending more time doing what matters most to you.
* Examine your daily routine: Many of us are stretched for time, and that only increases our stress levels. While you can't create a 25th or 26th hour in the day, you can look at your daily routine and probably find a commitment or two that you can drop that will give you more time and reduce your stress. While it can be tough to detach yourself from some of these commitments, remember the negative and potentially lethal consequences of stress. Once you have extra time, you can always volunteer your time. Volunteer opportunities are often noncommittal, so you won't be stretching yourself too thin.
* Approach personal time like you do your job: Lots of people are skeptical about calling out sick from work. However, those same people typically aren't averse to cancelling personal plans outside of the office. Personal time, whether on a boat fishing, exercising at the gym or spending time with the kids, is a big part of reducing stress. Approach your personal time like you do your job, and don't be quick to place personal time a distant second behind work. Balancing work and life involves putting a proper emphasis on work and life, so value that time as much as you would your time at work.
* Accept others' help: For those whose professional lives include constant decision making, it can be tough to accept others' help. However, relying on someone else is necessary for reducing stress. This can include your spouse as well as a business partner or coworker. As much as you might be capable of handling everything when push comes to shove, it's very unhealthy, and often unnecessary, to go it alone. Accept the help of others and watch as your quality of life improves.