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11 Tips to Reduce Stress and Achieve a Work/Life Balance

Smart tips for smart people: how to use ergonomics, proper diet, and other habits to achieve success

Illustration for article titled 11 Tips to Reduce Stress and Achieve a Work/Life Balance
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The causes of stress in our daily life are too numerous to count. In fact, just thinking about how many there are is stressful. Luckily, reducing stress doesn't require eliminating all stressful factors from our lives.

Studies have shown that through work/life balance, we reduce stress (The Human Solution Report) and achieve a more successful career (Accenture). These 11 tips will help you do just that. They are not far-fetched, not hard to incorporate in our daily routines, and have been proven successful. You don't have to do them all; pick the ones that feel comfortable to you and grade your own stress levels before and after:

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Change Habits

1. Leave for work 5 minutes ahead of your normal schedule. This extra "buffer" will diminish the rushed feeling we start most days with. Starting the morning with a sense of calm and abundance of time goes a long way throughout the day.

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2. Relax on days off. This one is becoming harder to master in our ever-connected, always-on career-centered world, but that is why it is one of the most important. Start with just one day (or maybe just half a day) during which you have no plans and refrain from checking emails, voice mails, and social networks. Do nothing and relax – it will rejuvenate you for the upcoming week.

3. Do the thing that stresses you most first. Dreading an important talk with a key client? Stressing over a hiring decision? By taking care of the items that are causing you most stress early in the day (or week), you clear your list (and mind) to take care of everything else.

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4. Clean out one drawer a week. Clutter causes stress. By doling your de-cluttering tasks into small, manageable projects you can create significant headway. So clean out just one drawer every week. Or perhaps one in the office and one at home.

5. Sleep. Try going to bed one hour earlier for one week and see how that changes your outlook. Need help getting used to the new schedule? Take a bath, drink some tea, and turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.

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Diet

6. Hydrate. Sounds simplistic, right? But it is true. According to WebMD, the link between water and stress reduction is well documented. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol hormone levels. Keep a large bottle of water on your desk to make hydration easy and keep the cortisol levels in balance.

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7. Eliminate sugar. It may sound difficult, but it will make a big difference, so try it out for two weeks and gauge if you like the results. According to Everyday Health, sugar is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. The absorption causes an initial high or surge of energy. But that surge wears off as the body increases its insulin production to remove the sugar. The result: You're left feeling tired and low.

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8. Eat a balanced diet. Everybody tells you that it's good for you, but did you know that a balanced diet reduces stress? Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables adds vitamins and minerals that are great for reducing stress. Yogurt and other calcium-rich foods are essential to maintain well-functioning nerve impulses. Herbal items such as chamomile will relax both the body and mind. To keep stress to a minimum, eat regular meals to keep your energy up. That can either be a big meal in the morning, something relatively light for lunch and another light meal in the evening, or a breakfast smoothie, larger lunch and another light meal in the evening. Healthy snacks or four smaller meals can also be effective for sustaining your mental alertness and balance.

Ergonomics

9. Select ergonomic furniture. Chairs with adjustable heights, seat backs, and arm rests; desks that accommodate both sitting and standing positions; foot rests, document holders, monitor arms, and more. Today's ergonomic furniture selections are stylish, affordable, and simply lead to less physical and mental stress.

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10. Level elbows and wrists. Whether you are working at your desk in the office, at a too-small table at Starbucks, on the couch at home, or (heaven forbid!) in bed at the end of the day, make sure your elbows and wrists are level. This will relax your shoulders, improve your posture, and contribute to your overall health and well-being.

11. Adjust lighting. Make sure your monitor is perpendicular to windows so that you don't strain your eyes. Adjust blinds and furniture placement to allow light into the room, but not directly into your field of view.

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Healthy habits, balanced diet and ergonomic furniture and positioning can play a major factor to keeping you energized, less stressed, and vibrant!

About Karen Burke

Karen is president of Kare Products which specializes in ergonomic products. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

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