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Fight stress by creating balance in life

Feeling overwhelmed, overworked, overloaded and stressed is all too common nowadays. The problem is that these feelings are actually compromising our effectiveness, productivity and efficiency. We get things done but at a cost to both the quality and quantity of work we produce, and at a cost to our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. There are some things you can do to help restore balance in your life. Here are a few places to start. Joyce E.A. Russell, Special to the Washington Post


Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, also wrote a book called First Things First. In this book, he points out that you need to set goals for yourself first based on what is most important to you. For example, if your family is on top on your list and you want to make sure you have time for several vacations with family members next year, then block those times first on your calendar and keep those times sacred.

Similarly, if being physically fit is important to you, then schedule time for your exercise plan. I know many busy executives who work out several mornings a week (no matter how early it is) to make sure this doesn't get bumped off of their calendar for the day.


We all have clutter — at our homes, our offices, in our closets. Having clutter around us can make us feel like we are never progressing in completing our "in box" since it looks like none of the piles ever goes down.

Schedule some time to eliminate some of the clutter in your life. Being in a clean, clutter-free zone will give you some sense of peace that you have control over at least part of your environment. And try to keep it clean — that is, don't let newspapers, magazines, letters and more accumulate.


Give yourself some time each day and each week when you disconnect from the demands of work. Quit checking your e-mail and turn off your BlackBerry or iPhone for a while.

Researchers tell us that a vacation with constant connections back to work does not serve as a restful break, and we come back to work even more stressed.


Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your own future health and well-being is to say no to demands placed upon you. Remember, when you say no, you're turning down a request, not a person.


Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't suffer in silence. Often, your co-workers, family members and friends would be happy to help if they only knew that you needed it. Ask for their help before it gets to the point at which you have a meltdown.

Dr. Joyce E.A. Russell is the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist.

Fight stress by creating balance in life 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 4:30am]
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