No matter how tired you are by the time you get off work, you might need to make dinner, help with homework, read your kids a bedtime story, and tuck them in. And then you might need to do the dishes, pay bills, and maybe finish work you took home from the office. But before that, you owe a call to your aging parents, who also need your attention. The result is that juggling the demands of work and home can be quite stressful.
If you have a lot stress, it may start to upset you both emotionally and physically. Heavy stress can lead to headaches, back pain, muscle aches, and stomach trouble. You may suffer with low morale, poor sleep and concentration, and depression. You may also be exhausted and irritable, losing your temper and getting sick far more often than you used to.
For your health and well-being, it’s important to find a good balance between work and home responsibilities. Here are tips that can help:
- Try to stay positive and relaxed. The more stress you feel, the worse your mood and the harder it will be to get things done. Focus your energy on completing one task at a time rather than worrying about how to do all of them.
- Prioritize. Create a to-do list and a schedule of tasks you need to complete, with the most important ones at the top. Budget time for each of those items, and stick to your schedule as closely as you can.
- Practice stress-busting steps. When you feel overwhelmed, take some time to relax. Try to breathe deeply with your eyes closed, concentrating on your breath. Or do some yoga or gentle stretches: Relax your muscles by starting with your toes and slowly relaxing each muscle in your body as you work your way up to your head.
- Set limits. When your to-do list is already full, say no to more projects at work and home if you can. Find out your boss’s top priorities and work on those, but be careful not to promise more than you can deliver. Make clear that if you work on project X, you may have to push back the deadline on project Y.
- Share the load. Don't be afraid to ask your co-workers or family members for help. Have your spouse or older kids pitch in around the house and cook meals, do some cleaning, and take care of a few loads of laundry. Even younger kids may be old enough to dust or set the table. It’s much less stressful if you’re working as a team.
- Don't try to be perfect. It may be time to let go of your Superwoman or Superman fantasy of always having the perfectly clean house, among other things. So what if laundry is waiting or there are toys all over the living room? Sometimes a hot bath and turning in early is what the doctor ordered.
- Stay healthy. To do your best at work and at home, you've got to take care of yourself. Eat regularly and stick to nutritious foods—skip the chips and soda. Exercise often to manage stress and enjoy a little quiet time for yourself. And be sure to get plenty of sleep each night. Don't sacrifice your rest just to get more done.
- Take time for yourself. A few quiet minutes to yourself each day can recharge your batteries. You'll be a better employee and a better family member by doing this.
- Change jobs if necessary. It’s tough to find the ideal job in today’s economy, but your work shouldn’t hurt your health. If your employer only gives lip service to your requests for better work-family balance, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by leaving as soon as you line up a better job.